Two second-half goals from substitute Marina Makanza gave France a valuable 2-0 win over Costa Rica in Bochum to put themselves in with a great chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals. Makanza had also scored the goal in the 1-1 draw with Colombia on Tuesday while for Costa Rica there are only regrets as they go out of the tournament, having missed a penalty with the score at 0-0.
French coach Jean-Michel Degrange made eight changes for the Group A clash with only goalkeeper Laetitia Philippe, captain Kelly Gadea and her central-defensive partner Caroline La Villa surviving from the first game.
Costa Rica, well-organised and technically strong, gave France problems in the early minutes with winger Raquel Rodriguez Vasquez showing speed and dribbling skill. In the 29th minute there was a big chance for her team as defender Adeline Rousseau made a sloppy pass straight to opposing striker Ana Aguilar. But the shot from 12 metres sailed over the bar.
Just before half-time France had their own near-miss when Camille Catala let fly with her left foot and saw her shot strike the underside of the bar before bouncing back into the field of play.
The second half showed a different face from France who put more effort into their attacking play. Right at the start of the half Pauline Crammer was unmarked with only goalkeeper Priscilla Tapia to beat but a defender just made the block in time.
In the 57th minute came the Central Americans’ chance to go in front. Goalkeeper Laetitia Philippe brought down Vasquez close to the edge of the penalty area but Philippe made amends as she saved Katherine Alvarado's attempt. The Costa Rica captain was foiled again as her free-kick was saved soon after.
The game had really come to the boil as both sides tried everything for the three points to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive. It was at that time that Makanza was brought on and six minutes later she broke the deadlock. Picking up the ball while defenders hesitated, she raced away before beating Priscilla Tapia with a right-footed shot.
With eight minutes remaining Makanza picked up the ball on the left this time, dribbled beyond Yocxelin Rodriguez and then hammered the ball into the net from a sharp angle.