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Soccer

Germany, France advance to quarterfinals at Women’s World Cup

Host Germany and rising power France swept into the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup on Thursday with shutout victories that eliminated Nigeria and Canada, respectively, from advancing in the 16-nation tournament.

Les Bleus were the first to reach the final eight, brushing aside the Canadians, 4-0, in Bochum to the delight of French fans in the crowd of 16,951.

Two goals by forward Gaetane Thiney, one in each half, and a goal apiece from midfielder Camille Abily, a former Los Angeles Sol player, and forward Elodie Thomis were more than enough in the highest-scoring match of the competition so far.

“I said after the first match [a 1-0 defeat of Nigeria] that we had three points and nobody can take them away from us,” said France Coach Bruno Bini. “Well, now we have six points and nobody can take those away from us either.

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“However, I … know that those six points do not necessarily guarantee qualification. At 11 o’clock tonight I can tell you how important this victory was.”

The appointed hour arrived and with it Germany’s 1-0 victory over Nigeria in front of a sellout crowd of 48,817 in Frankfurt.

That result, coupled with the Germans’ earlier 2-1 victory over Canada, was enough to assure the Canadians and Nigerians of an early trip home when the first round ends.

Canada, which won the North and Central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF) qualifying tournament ahead of Mexico and the U.S., was no match for the French, whose goals came in the 24th, 60th, 66th and 83rd minutes.

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Carolina Morace, Canada’s coach, blamed a defensive miscue on the first goal for the eventual rout.

“Sometimes in football you must clear the ball without thinking too much about where it will go,” she said. “That mistake shook our confidence. We made many mistakes after that while the French team didn’t make a single mistake. They played the perfect game.”

Thiney’s post-match comment was positively dismissive. “We really felt very good and we stopped worrying about Canada after the first 15 minutes,” she said.

Germany, the defending champion and tournament favorite, was made to work a lot harder for its victory in a somewhat foul-ridden match.

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The lone goal, by defensive midfielder Simone Laudehr, came in the 54th minute when she blasted in a shot from 12 yards after the Nigerians failed to clear a free kick by Laudehr’s midfield teammate, Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi.

“We are into the quarterfinals but without too much glory,” Germany Coach Silvia Neid said. “To me, the players seemed inhibited. … There was a lot of stress . . . and that seemed to hinder us.”

grahame.jones@latimes.com

Jones reported from Ross on Wye, England.


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