The second match in Group D at the Torpedo Moscow stadium this evening pitted together two outsiders for the title, Argentina and France. Earlier in the day, USA had overcome the Congolese 2-1 .
As it was, the match transpired to be something of a mismatch as Les Bleuettes - solid in defence, lively and inspired in attack - devoured the lacklustre Albiceleste, cementing their claim as serious contenders.
Before the kick-off, the French captain Laure Boulleau could be heard haranguing her troops: "Let's have some fun and really get in among them!" Courtesy of her cajoling, Stephane Pilard's side hit the ground running, Coralie Ducher striking the crossbar on three minutes before Elisabeth Minnig fumbled a cross right in front of Boulleau, presenting her with the easiest of opening goals (1-0, 12').
"Despite the fact that we scored early, the girls stayed focused and I have to congratulate them for that," a delighted Pilard said after the game. "They never loosened their grip on the game and carried out my instructions to the letter."
The Argentines were always going to find it hard coming back from such a disastrous start, but afterwards coach Carlos Borello's attempted to put a positive spin on the match. "We came here to gain experience and develop," he said. "Of course I don't like losing, but this heavy defeat will teach us lessons for the future."
Effective team game
Slick and fast-moving, the French team game looked very impressive, and before long, Henry fed Boulleau on the left, who whipped in a dangerous cross for Marie-Laure Delie to power the ball home (2-0, 28').
The Argentines were on the ropes now, and they had Minnig to thank for temporarily keeping the deficit at two by thwarting Delie two minutes from the break. Soon after the interval, however, Houara produced some great work out wide on the right, leaving two opponents for dead before crossing perfectly for Louisa Necib, who made no mistake with her side-footed finish (3-0, 51').
The South Americans had been dealt the killer blow, were saved by the crossbar on 59 minutes when Minnig was left stranded by a 30-metre rocket of a shot from Houara. The fourth goal came soon after, when Delie broke free through the centre and cleverly lobbed Minnig (4-0, 65').
The French then proceeded to take their foot off the gas somewhat, but there was still time for Houara to apply the coup de grace in the game's closing stages (5-0, 86').
A match to forget for the Argentines, and one to savour for the French.
"We're now going to concentrate on our next game. If we win it, we'll go through to the next round, which would be an historic achievement," said Pilard. "But for the moment, we're keeping our feet on the ground, especially as the Congolese played so well against the States. We shouldn't think we're as good as through."
His Argentine counterpart, meanwhile, acknowledged that, "the hardest thing is going to be remotivating the girls after such a heavy defeat. We're playing the Americans, so it's a really big match for us and we'll need to cut out the errors. We'll definitely be working on that over the coming days."
Player of the match: LAURE BOLLEAU (FRA)
"She was as effective in attack as she was in defence, is technically excellent and what's more, she's a hard worker." Connie Selby (AUS), member of the FIFA Technical Study Group.