BRISBANE, Australia: France breathed fresh life into their Women’s World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over Brazil on Saturday as Sweden barreled into the last 16 and Jamaica claimed a historic first win.
France captain Wendie Renard headed in the winner seven minutes from time in front of nearly 50,000 in Brisbane to earn a vital three points and leave Brazil’s World Cup in peril.
The result blew Group F wide open. France are top on four points from two games and in pole position to qualify along with Jamaica, who have the same number of points following a 1-0 triumph over Panama.
Herve Renard’s France defied most of the Brisbane crowd and a Brazilian team who thumped Panama 4-0 in their previous match, to reinvigorate French hopes of a first World Cup title.
The French controlled much of the first half and took an early lead through veteran striker Eugenie Le Sommer with her 90th goal in 181 appearances.
Brazil came back into the game in the second half and were rewarded when Debinha latched onto a deflected shot and fired past goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin to level.
With time running out, France struck again.
Selma Bacha swung in a corner in the 83rd minute and defender Renard — who had been a pre-match injury doubt — appeared unmarked at the far post to head home.
Meanwhile, Sweden thumped Italy 5-0 to join title contenders Spain and former champions Japan in reaching the knockout rounds with a match to spare.
Three goals in seven minutes in the first half did the damage in Wellington as Italy struggled to deal with Sweden’s set pieces and aerial threat.
Arsenal defender Amanda Ilestedt scored twice and has three goals at this World Cup, all with her head.
“Maybe I didn’t expect three goals but I know that’s one of my strengths and it’s something we’re working on a lot at training,” she said. Also, Jamaica won at the Women’s World Cup for the first time with a deserved victory over debutants Panama.
Skipper Allyson Swaby headed in from a corner early in the second half to give Jamaica their first victory at the fifth attempt.
Jamaica face Brazil on Wednesday knowing they only need a point to claim a landmark spot in the last 16.
The success comes against the backdrop of rows with the Jamaican football federation over a lack of support for the team and unpaid expenses.
“It is huge. It keeps our dream of getting out of this group alive,” match-winner Swaby said.
Australia’s hopes of staying in their home tournament received a boost on Saturday when skipper Sam Kerr declared herself available.
The prolific Chelsea striker, the face of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, suffered a calf injury on the eve of the tournament and missed the Matildas’ first two games.
The Australians squeezed past Ireland 1-0 thanks to a penalty to open their campaign but were then stunned 3-2 by Nigeria.
With a critical encounter against Olympic champions Canada looming on Monday, the 29-year-old fronted the media in Brisbane to say: “I am going to be there. I am going to be ready.”
There was also good news for European champions England who announced that key midfielder Keira Walsh did not suffer an anterior cruciate ligament injury in their win over Denmark.
Walsh will miss their last group game against China, when the Lionesses will hope to seal their place in the knockouts, but will remain with the squad.
Group A looks set for a thrilling conclusion on Sunday.
Switzerland lead with four points and are in pole position to advance. They play co-hosts New Zealand in a sell-out in Dunedin.
New Zealand are level on three points with debutants the Philippines, who play former champions Norway at the same time in Auckland.
Norway, who sit bottom of the group with one point, can qualify but they must win — and do it without star striker Ada Hegerberg, who is injured.
Also in action on Sunday are one of the favorites, Germany, who face Colombia in Group H.