Football: France skipper Henry savours 'lucky' extra-time winner over Brazil; US loom in q-finals

France captain Amandine Henry slid to meet a free kick early in the second period of extra time and volleyed into the bottom corner to score the 107th-minute winner against Brazil.
France captain Amandine Henry slid to meet a free kick early in the second period of extra time and volleyed into the bottom corner to score the 107th-minute winner against Brazil.PHOTO: AFP

LE HAVRE, FRANCE (AFP, REUTERS) - France captain Amandine Henry said she needed a "little luck" to score the 107th-minute winner which fired the hosts into the Women's World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday (June 23) with a 2-1 victory over Brazil.

The 29-year-old defensive midfielder slid to meet Amel Majri's free kick early in the second period of extra time and volleyed into the bottom corner to settle a tense last-16 encounter in Le Havre.

"I saw Amel (take the free kick), I slid, I had a little luck," she told Canal+.

"After, I didn't know what happened. I didn't even have the strength to get up... I hoped VAR wasn't going to take it back.

"It wasn't easy, we came across a very strong team that played with rhythm, aggression, we were looking to the mind."

France will next face either reigning champions the United States or Spain in the last eight at what will be a raucous Parc des Princes in Paris on Friday.

"Every time we hear the crowd, it feels good, we want to give back what they give us," said winger Kadidiatou Diani.

France had laboured in the first half before Valerie Gauvin - who had earlier seen a goal ruled out by VAR - put them ahead in the 52nd minute, although Thaisa's strike for Brazil 11 minutes later ultimately forced extra time.

"I managed to be in front of goal when I needed to be," said Gauvin. "The most important thing was the victory. It was difficult, but that's important for the future."

Les Bleues struggled to make their early domination count due to the lack of a killer instinct that prevented them wrapping up victory inside 90 minutes.

"It was a tense, very tense game against a formidable opponent but we did not give up and we wore them down," said coach Corinne Diacre.

Brazil veteran Marta said: "I would have liked us to play more in the first half so the second half would have been easier but I guess this will be freeing us for the remainder of the tournament.

"I'm proud of our performance, the grit that we showed until the end. That's the feeling that I will keep with me.

"Those are the kind of matches that will help women's football to continue to grow."

France will, however, need to raise their game if they are to win their first World Cup.

"My players are not at their best level. Some are playing at 80 per cent of their potential, some at 60-70 per cent," said Diacre.

That level was still a tad too much to handle for Brazil, who were nonetheless encouraged by Thaisa's equaliser.

"The entire match was incredible," said Brazil coach Vadao. "It was very balanced. I think we've played four very good matches at this tournament and (losing) is just part of football. But we made it difficult for France today.

"We equalised and had a chance to go ahead, but we were never going to boss the game for the entire match because these teams are the best in the world.

"There is a renewal taking place but, going forward, there shouldn't be too many changes. Players like Marta and Cristiane should be playing for a few more years yet."