France have taken a giant stride towards the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup with a resounding 4-0 win over New Zealand in Montreal's Olympic Stadium. After a solid start, the Junior Ferns found that they no answer to the European champions' pace, power and attacking flair in a one-sided encounter.
The French had won their opening match 5-1 but coach Gilles Eyquem still opted to make five changes, and the players he brought in made a massive contribution to an impressive team performance. Indeed, while New Zealand started solidly in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, the pace of Lindsey Thomas on the right flank soon began to cause the underdogs all manner of problems.
Claire Lavogez, the star of Les Bleuettes' victory over Costa Rica, also impressed, and it was the gifted No10 who laid on the opening goal after 22 minutes. Renowned as a set piece specialist, Lavogez justified her reputation with a brilliant free-kick from the right, delivered into the perfect area between goalkeeper and defence, and leaving Kadidiatou Diani simply to make contact - with the ball flying in off the forward's shins.
Soon after, Lavogez nearly went from provider to scorer, going for goal with an audacious free-kick close to the byline and forcing an excellent save from the out-of-position Lily Alfeld. The France No10 would not be denied, though, and seven minutes into the second half Diani returned the compliment, dribbling her way to the byline and measuring an inch-perfect cutback into the midfielder's path. Lavogez duly took full advantage, smashing an unstoppable first-time shot high into the net.
France were firmly in control by this stage, creating - and missing - a series of gilt-edged chances to extend their lead. Indeed, it took the introduction of substitute Clarisse Le Bihan to provide a little cutting edge to their flowing attacking moves, with the Guingamp forward striking twice in the closing stages.
First she used her pace to race through on to a long ball over the top and beat Alfeld at her near post with a powerful low right-foot shot. Then, with eight minutes remaining, she added further shine to the scoreline by shooting home from close range after the Kiwi keeper had flapped at a free-kick swung in from the right.
The French will now wait to see whether Costa Rica can put the seal on their qualification by beating or drawing against Paraguay, while New Zealand know that their final match against Las Ticas could well determine who advances to the last eight.
Live Your Goals player of the match: Claire Lavogez (FRA)