FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Canada 2014

FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Canada 2014

5 August - 24 August

FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2014

Lavogez: I specialise in the spectacular

 Claire Lavogez #10 of France celebrates after she scores her team's 4th goal.
© Getty Images

Everyone loves a goal that caps a dazzling dribble, while there is a purist's pleasure in witnessing a beautifully crafted, intricate team effort. But there is also a unique satisfaction in seeing a sweetly struck shot find its mark, and Claire Lavogez treated Montreal to two of those in France's 5-1 win over Costa Rica.

The first - a penalty - was an old-fashioned whack, reminiscent of Charles Aranguiz's memorable spot-kick for Chile against Brazil at the FIFA World Cup. The result, as with the Chilean's, was a ferocious, unstoppable shot into the roof of the net and a keeper who need not have moved.

Lavogez's second was of a different type and a thing of real beauty, with the player waiting for the ball to drop, sizing up her angles and using the instep of her right foot to loop an exquisite volley in off the underside of the crossbar.

Both were goals worthy of gracing any World Cup, and they left France top of Group D - and Lavogez at the summit of the tournament's scoring chart. Not that she expects to stay there. "I don't score too often," she told, smiling as she clutched a well-deserved Live Your Goals player of the match award. "It's just that, when I do, they tend to be spectacular."

Anyone who has followed this creative midfielder's career thus far will attest to that, with a stunning long-range free-kick against Germany at the 2011 UEFA U-17 European Women's Championship the first high-profile demonstration of her talents. The question when witnessing such a natural striker of the ball is always how much of the talent is God-given, and how much comes from hard, diligent hours on the training ground. With Lavogez, both elements come into play.

I just concentrate on striking the ball well and putting it in the right place. It's that simple.

"I definitely practice a lot on striking the ball, and try to make sure that my free-kicks and shots are as good and accurate as possible," she said. "But I must say that I don't spend hours and hours on it. As for the penalty, I actually don't practice those at all. I just concentrate on striking the ball well and putting it in the right place. It's that simple.

"A lot of my shooting technique just comes naturally and I'm very grateful for that. It's always great when your goals today help your team to win, and I hope this victory can be the start of a really great tournament for me and my team-mates."

Given the record of this generation of French players - champions at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2012 and winners of last year's European finals - the assumption would be that only another trophy would constitute fulfilment at Canada 2014. Lavogez insists otherwise, though, and suggested that the side knocked out of the EURO semi-finals by *Les Bleuettes *are the team to beat here.

"At the moment, I think Germany are the strongest," she said. "We'll push them hard, I hope, and you can be sure that we will do our best to win. But I really don't see us as the favourites to win this trophy."

For the moment, Lavogez's focus is not on silverware, but Saturday's top-of-the-table Group D showdown with New Zealand. That will bring Gilles Eyquem's players back to the cavernous dome of Montreal's Olympic Stadium, and extend their stay in a French-speaking province that has become something of a home away from home.

"We really like it here. And with it being French-speaking, it's been very easy for us to communicate with everyone," she explained. "The people here have been very friendly to us and we feel very comfortable here in Montreal. It's a real pleasure to be in this city."

With the winner of France's group returning to Montreal, and the final set for the Olympic Stadium, there is extra motivation for an extended stay in Quebec's largest city. And should Lavogez maintain her opening-match form, there is every reason for believing France can be here when the medals are handed out.

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