France hammer Morocco 4-0, to meet Australia in FIFA Women’s World Cup quarters

France will take on hosts Australia in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup after blowing away the newcomers Morocco in a knockout match. The French national women’s team scored three times in nine minutes during a first-half blitz in Adelaide to finish 4-0 winners, ending the African nation’s historic run at the tournament.

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Midfielder Kenza Dali starred for Les Bleues, playing a key role in the build-up for forward Kadidiatou Diani’s opening goal and scoring the second as she thrived in the space behind Morocco’s high defensive line.

After opening the scoring, Diani, who scored a hat-trick in France’s final group stage match against Panama, assisted with the second and third goals for Dali and Eugenie Le Sommer, respectively.

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The result makes France one of the only two teams to reach the quarters at the last three Women’s World Cups, joining England in achieving that feat. This also sets up an interesting clash between fifth-ranked France and hosts Australia, who defeated Denmark 2-0 in the last-16 match. The two sides will play in Brisbane on Saturday evening local time.

Meanwhile, France ended Africa’s hopes at the World Cup, as Morocco joined Nigeria and South Africa in being knocked out by European opponents in the Round of 16.

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Morocco had not conceded a goal since being beaten 6-0 by Germany in their first-ever World Cup group-stage match. However, their defence could not hold out against some aggressive French pressing.

Diani capitalised on build-up play between Dali, Sakina Karchaoui and Elisa De Almeida on the left wing, heading in her fourth goal of the tournament from point-blank range in the 15th minute. A few minutes later she set up Dali at the top of the penalty box to score France’s second goal after the midfielder had played Diani through with a brilliant first-time pass.

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France’s progress to the quarterfinals was confirmed in the 23rd minute when Diani’s pressure forced a mistake from the opponent, which was capitalised on by Le Sommer, who scored her 91st goal for France. Her next goal came in the 70th minute following a far post header from substitute Vicki Becho’s cross.

Morocco’s best chance came in the 49th minute when Ibtissam Jraidi, having been played through on goal, tried to round Pauline Peyraud-Magnin only for the French goalkeeper to get a fingertip to the ball.

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This preserved France’s first clean sheet since opening the World Cup with a 0-0 draw with Jamaica. France’s quarterfinal against the Matildas will be a replay of the host’s “send-off” friendly between the two teams days before the World Cup.

The Matildas were victorious 1-0 on that occasion in front of more than 50,000 fans in Melbourne, with Hayley Raso and Mary Fowler combining for the decisive goal.

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