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France reach quarter-finals as victory over Belgium seals top spot


F

rance booked their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2022 with a 2-1 win over Belgium as they wrapped up top spot in Group D.

The 8,173 crowd at the New York Stadium lifted the total attendance so far at this year’s tournament to 248,075, beating the previous record from 2017 (240,055) already with just half of the matches played.

Corinne Diacre’s France side, one of the tournament favourites, took the lead in the sixth minute when Kadidiatou Diani arrived at the far post to head in Sakina Karchaoui’s deep cross.

Les Bleus dominated but were wasteful in front of goal. They were punished in the 36th minute when Belgium captain Tessa Wullaert put through forward Janice Cayman who slid to get a toe on the ball and sent it past goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, the team’s first touch in the opposition box.

The response from France was as swift as it was ruthless. Just minutes later another header, this time from defender Griedge Mbock Bathy, restored their lead before half-time on Bastille Day.

The French had more chances in the second half but lacked the clinical edge to increase the advantage over their opponents. They were given a soft penalty late on for handball by Belgium substitute Amber Tysiak when Grace Geyoro’s shot hit her arm, even though it was low and close to her side.

Tysiak was sent off for a second booking but France captain Wendie Renard had her spot-kick saved by Nicky Evrard and then missed the rebound.

Belgium can still reach the knockout phase as they are third in the group, one point behind Iceland who earlier drew 1-1 with Italy to earn their second point.

France, who have six points, will finish top but may have concerns over key forward Marie-Antoinette Katoto who went off injured early in the first half. They will face either Sweden or the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

Additional reporting by Reuters.


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