|Germany celebrate their first and only goal against Nigeria in their crucial group stage match [GALLO/GETTY]
France brutally ended the World Cup hopes of Canada on Thursday booking their spot in the quarter-finals of the women’s World Cup with a 4-0 Group A win.
A double from Gaetane Thiney and second half goals from Camille Abily and Elodie Thomis put France on the way to their first quarter-final appearance at the tournament with just one group game to play.
Germany also made the quarter-final cut after Simone Laudehr finished off a 54th-minute goalmouth scramble with a thunderous volley to give her side a 1-0 win over Nigeria.
France piled the pressure from the outset with the CONCACAF champions lining up with skipper Christine Sinclair wearing a face mask after breaking her nose during Sunday’s game.
Although the French dominated early the Canadians missed a chance to open after 15 minutes after a solo break by Diana Matheson ended in the midfielder losing ball possession.
But France’s pressing paid off as Thiney picked up a cross following a scramble on front of the Canadian goal to head past under pressure keeper Erin McLeod.
McLeod did well to keep out a Louisa Necib lob on 30 minutes by the tips of her fingers with Marie-Laure Delie missing an effort two minutes later as the French strikers pushed forward in search of the second goal.
After the break Delie missed a chance to add to her tally when alone on front of goal. But the pressure paid of after 60 minutes when Thiney picked up a Delie cross to fire into goal, and six minutes later Abily scored.
Thomis claimed the fourth seven minutes from time when she broke through to advance past oncoming McLeod and roll the ball into an empty net to the delight of the crowd.
Duel for top spot
The result means Germany will have to beat France next Tuesday if they want to top Group A.
With Nigeria needing victory to stay in contention, Germany knew the task ahead. And despite the support of a 48,817 sellout crowd, it managed little beyond territorial domination.
In a sometimes rough game which referee Cha Sung-mi had trouble controlling, Nigeria went head-to-head with Germany as much as possible but was unable to create many chances against the two-time defending champion.
Germany stuck with the same lineup as the one which beat Canada 2-1 in the opener, keeping veteran star Birgit Prinz in front of her home crowd despite a disappointing opening game.
Expectations of an easy game between the No. 2 and No. 27 in the FIFA rankings were proven wrong, as Nigeria kept putting in crunching tackles, was on edge all the time, and not ready to leave the tournament easily.
“We are happy to advance but we have to work on our game,” Germany coach Sylvia Neid said.