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France tops Nigeria to open 2011 Women's World Cup

Jun 26, 2011 - 6:36 PM Sinsheim, Germany (Sports Network) - France opened the 2011 Women's World Cup in successful fashion on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Nigeria in Group A play courtesy of Marie-Laure Delie's second-half goal.

Making only its second appearance at the Women's World Cup, France nearly opened the scoring after 18 minutes as a low corner kick from Louisa Necib was driven toward the near post, where Gaetane Thiney was able to redirect it off the post from a tight angle.

Nigeria relied mostly on counter attack play and the Super Falcons wasted a great chance in the 25th minute when Glory Iroka released Desire Oparanozie down the right wing. Oparanozie was able to carry the ball into the penalty area and had only France goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz to beat, but she badly scuffed her shot wide.

The second half saw France start to gain more control of the match and the lone goal arrived in the 56th minute when substitute Eugenie Le Sommer's right-wing cross was flicked on by Necib into the path of Delie, who took a touch to settle before smacking her shot past goalkeeper Precious Dede.

Nigeria failed to seriously test Sapowicz in the French goal over the final 30 minutes and things will only get tougher for the African side with games against Germany and Canada still to come.

"Although it was only 1-0, I think this win was very important, as the opening matches in competitions always are. It'll give us maximum confidence for what lies ahead," Necib said.

France will return to action on June 30 against Canada, while Nigeria will face the hosts, Germany, on the same day.

"We hadn't planned to defend as much as we did, but nothing is lost yet," said Nigeria forward Perpetua Nkwocha. "We weren't intimidated by the number of goals France had scored in their preparation games. We'll now have to attack more against Germany, and we'll also have to play more as a team and talk to each other more on the pitch."