Kazbek Tambi's side had started the day knowing that their superior goal difference would take them through from Group C with Japan - provided, of course, they could avoid defeat at North Harbour Stadium. That proved easier said than done against a determined and talented French side, and Lea Rubio served an early warning of the Europeans' intent with a fizzing right-foot shot that rattled the face of the crossbar with goalkeeper Taylor Vancil beaten.
Vicki DiMartino, already with two goals to her name, had missed the best of the Americans' first-half opportunities, but she more than made amends 11 minutes into the second period with a contender for goal of the tournament. Picking up the ball just as an attack seemed to have broken down, the striker - out of nothing and with very little back-lift - sent a quite magnificent right-foot shot soaring over Laetitia Philippe and into the far corner via the underside of the crossbar.
The US were probably just about deserving of their lead at this stage, but France remained a threat and, with 18 minutes remaining, the outstanding Rubio set up a grandstand finish with an equally stunning left-foot shot that again clipped the underside of the bar on its way into the net from fully 30 yards.
It was not enough, however, with some late heroics from Vancil ensuring that USA march on to the last eight and France head for home.