Hosts France sent an unmistakable warning to rivals about their ambition to win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup when they walloped South Korea 4-0 in the opener in Paris on Friday.
Towering defender Wendie Renard scored twice in the match, watched by a sell-out crowd of 45,261 at the Parc des Princes.
Les Bleues are among the favourites to win the trophy on home soil and they showed no mercy to the Koreans, with the prolific Eugenie Le Sommer giving them an early lead and Renard — the tallest player at the tournament — twice heading home before the interval.
Captain Amandine Henry, impressive throughout, wrapped up the win late on in this Group A encounter.
The South Korean women wonder what hit them
The display was watched by France’s President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, who were in the crowd alongside Gianni Infantino.
The FIFA chief had this week promised the month-long tournament would see the “explosion” of the women’s game as he was waved in for a second term at the head of world football’s governing body. Almost a million tickets have been sold for matches in the nine host cities.
This was certainly a fine start, despite the unseasonably cold Parisian evening, with the French showing their credentials having been set the target by their own federation of going all the way to the final in Lyon on July 7.
The problem for Corinne Diacre’s team is that, if they win their group, they could well end up facing reigning champions the United States back in Paris in the quarter-finals.
The USA, whose legal battle to be paid the same as their male counterparts has made waves in the run-up to the tournament, start their campaign against Thailand on Tuesday in Reims.
Ranked fourth in the world, the French have underperformed at recent major tournaments, losing in the quarter-finals of the last World Cup, Euro 2017 and the last Olympics.
Diacre is relying on a core of players from Lyon, Europe’s leading club side who won a fourth successive Champions League title last month.