In Llanelli, land of rugby, the French women’s football team took a giant step towards Oceania and the 2023 World Cup, dominating 2-1 on Friday its fiercest rival in qualifying, Wales.
Above the fight? With 21 points already collected, the maximum possible in 7 matches, the French team is almost certain to retain the first qualifying place in Group I after the playoffs in early September.
She will even be able to transform the test against her new runner-up, Slovenia (beaten 3-2 in the first leg), from Tuesday at Le Mans, where even a draw would officially qualify her for the next World Cup in July and August 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.
In the warm and windy Parc y Scarlets, the red and white temple of the British oval, Les Bleues extended their winning streak to 11 matches, while boosting their confidence three months before the Euros.
Shaken in the first leg, despite a flattering score (2-0), the Blues again trembled on Friday against Jess Fishlock’s team. The release came from their captain Wendie Renard (31st) and their chief artificer, Marie-Antoinette Katoto (57th).
Renard offered herself a 33rd goal on the evening of her 130th selection, the fourth in four matches, demonstrating once again that she was a lethal weapon on set pieces. The Lyonnaise, strangely marked in the area, took advantage of a bespoke service from Sandie Toletti on a corner.
Katoto, transparent then decisive
The Levante midfielder, valuable in defensive work (12th, 29th) and offensive transitions (16th, 24th), has once again proven that she deserves her place in the tricolor midfield, alongside Grace Geyoro, a doublet intended to compete in the Euro as a holder.
Since her return in February 2021, after three and a half years away, the former Montpellier player has transformed the temporary into a lasting one. Her place in the “eleven” type seems warm, which is not the case for Delphine Cascarino.
Preferred to Sandy Baltimore at kick-off, the Lyonnaise did not offer the desired impact on the left wing of the attack, where the right-hander had been exiled by Corinne Deacon. The coach replaced her with the Parisian after the hour mark.
An unstoppable scorer, Katoto added a pawn to her collection by countering a clearance from goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan (57th) on a suffocating pressing which enhanced her overall performance.
Highly anticipated after her flamethrower release against Paris SG, with whom she said she was in “total disagreement” about her future, “MAK” was long transparent, or clumsy, before putting hers out. ‘shelter.
At Llanelli, the 23-year-old striker scored a 14th goal in 10 appearances this season.
Effective offensively, the Blues displayed on the contrary a sometimes worrying defensive feverishness.
They could have been penalized with a penalty (58th) on a foul by Eve Perisset that the referee saw outside the area, which was not easy, and they escaped the equalizer on an offside reported (73rd).
Meanwhile, Welsh captain Sophie Ingle (71st, 2-1) had given hope to more than 4,500 local supporters, taking advantage of too light a corner marking. Les Bleues then suffered, a lot, but without flinching.