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First half blitz sends France to FIFA Women’s World Cup quarters

By Xinhua

   ADELAIDE, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- France will play hosts Australia in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women's World Cup after blowing away the newcomers Morocco.
   France scored three times in nine minutes during a first half blitz in Adelaide on Tuesday night, running away 4-0 winners to end the African nation's historic run at the tournament.
   Midfielder Kenza Dali starred for Les Bleues, playing a key role in the build-up for forward Kadidiatou Diani's opening goal and scoring the second as she thrived in the space behind Morocco's high defensive line.
   After opening the scoring, Diani, who scored a hat-trick in France's final group stage match against Panama, provided assists for the second and third goals for Dali and Eugenie Le Sommer, respectively.
   The result makes France one of only two teams to reach the quarterfinals at the last three Women's World Cups, joining England in achieving that feat.
   It sets up a tantalizing clash between the fifth-ranked France and hosts Australia, who beat Denmark 2-0 in the last-16 match, in Brisbane on Saturday evening local time.
   It also marks the end of Africa's hopes at the World Cup, with debutantes Morocco joining Nigeria and South Africa in being knocked out by European opponents in the round of 16.
   The Atlas Lionesses had not conceded a goal since being beaten 6-0 by Germany in their first-ever World Cup group stage match.
   However, their resolute defense could not hold out in the face of aggressive French pressing.
   Diani capitalized on dazzling build-up play between Dali, Sakina Karchaoui and Elisa De Almeida on the left wing, heading in her fourth goal of the tournament from point blank range in the 15th minute.
   Minutes later she set up Dali at the top of the penalty box to score France's second goal after the midfielder had played Diani through with a brilliant first time pass.
   France's progress to the quarterfinals was all but assured in the 23rd minute when Diani's pressure forced a mistake from the opponent, which was capitalized on by Le Sommer.
   It was the striker's 91st goal for France.
   Her 92nd came in the 70th minute courtesy of a far post header from substitute Vicki Becho's pinpoint cross.
   Morocco's best chance came in the 49th minute when Ibtissam Jraidi, having been played through on goal, tried to round Pauline Peyraud-Magnin only for the French goalkeeper to get a fingertip to the ball.
   The intervention preserved France's first clean sheet since opening the World Cup with a 0-0 draw with Jamaica.
   France's quarterfinal against the Matildas will be a replay of the host's "send-off" friendly between the two teams days before the World Cup.
   The Matildas were victorious 1-0 on that occasion in front of more than 50,000 fans in Melbourne, with Hayley Raso and Mary Fowler combining for the decisive goal.  Enditem
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