PARIS — The France women’s national team has plenty of pressure on its shoulders, ranked fourth in the world and playing the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup as the host nation. Les Bleues still have a long way to go before they could hoist the trophy. But at least for the tournament’s opening match Friday, they showed just how much fun they could have winning in this World Cup on their home turf.
France took down South Korea 4-0 Friday at Parc des Princes. It was an onslaught from the start, with three goals, two from Wendie Renard, coming in the first half. The first goal, from Eugénie Le Sommer in the ninth minute, was the fastest scored during a kickoff match in Women’s World Cup history.
🇫🇷 Eugénie Le Sommer's 9th-minute goal is the earliest goal scored in the opening match of a #FIFAWWC.
— Paul Carr (@PaulCarr) June 7, 2019
Fans in Paris on Friday braved not only intermittent drizzling rain and cool temperatures, but also difficulties getting into Parc des Princes. Lines began queuing hours before kickoff, and some fans reported issues getting their tickets scanned at the gates. Hundreds packed around entrances, and many were met with delays.
But by kickoff, Parc des Princes was mostly full (and by the end of the night was a sellout crowd of 45,261). It was a lively horde from the start, with the home fans singing the French national anthem with gusto.
Chaos unfolding at the Parc des Princes in Paris. Thousands of supporters are likely to miss kick off. Stewards can't cope and ticket fiasco causing difficulties at the gates. #FIFAWWC #FRAKOR pic.twitter.com/1roAZjUsAy
— Claire Bloomfield (@DifferentClaz) June 7, 2019
It didn’t take long before the home fans got their money’s worth. France wreaked havoc on South Korea’s back line from the opening whistle and found the back of the net inside 10 minutes when Le Sommer banged her shot in right under the crossbar.
From that point, it was the Renard show. She scored off two set-piece headers in the 35th minute and in first-half stoppage time. After her second, the Parc des Princes crowd launched into a “Wendie!” chant to send France into halftime, up 3-0.
Early in the second half, fans started a wave throughout the stadium — a sight that, more often than not, comes when games are practically already won.
South Korea's Cho So-hyun, left, and France's Eugenie Le Sommer vie for the ball during the Group A soccer match between France and South Korea on the occasion of the Women's World Cup at the Parc des Princes in Paris, Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
And that was the case Friday: France exhibited no sign of letting up, and South Korea looked out-matched from the start. The de facto visitors did not get off a single shot in the first half and struggled to maintain possession against a French team practically champing at the bit in the attacking third.
For the French, their night wasn’t just characterized by their dominance: Their flair showed up early too. Griedge Mbock Bathy tried a bicycle kick in the 25th minute, a shot that would have launched the entire stadium into chaos if it had gone in. The centerback did score off a similarly spicy kick a few minutes later, but the goal was disallowed after VAR determined she was offside. No matter: Amandine Henry completed the scoring in the 85th. The French got by easily with their four goals, and a raucous Parisian crowd left imagining what else was possible.