France Revels as It Opens the World Cup With a Victory


Ahead of the 9 p.m. kickoff, they passed time watching the French Open semifinal match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on television.

“Then we prepared our bags and we waited,” the wing Gaetane Thiney said, “like kids who go to Disneyland and are hopping up and down with impatience.”

Once they were on the field, their opponents could do little to slow them down. The left side of the South Korean defense looked particularly tremulous, and the French plowed at it ruthlessly.

In all regards, the French looked immaculately drilled, unwinding clever set-piece sequences on multiple occasions to catch their opponents off guard. One of them, a corner kick in the 27th minute, resulted in an apparent goal that was overturned by video review after the scorer, Griedge Mbock Bathy, was determined to have been a few inches offside.

After the game, South Korea’s coach, Yoon Deok-yeo, could do little more than apologize.

“In Korea, there are people who watched the match at a late hour, so I would like to say I’m sorry to the soccer fans in Korea,” he said. “France is the host of this event, they are potential winners of this event, and they showed how strong they are.”

Megan Rapinoe, an American forward, said earlier this week that the French were the favorites, acknowledging that such a compliment from a player on the No. 1-ranked United States team might come across as gamesmanship.

“I think all the pressure’s on them,” Rapinoe added.

Whatever pressure the French might have felt Friday was gone by the final whistle. After the game, they slowly walked around the perimeter of the field, clapping and waving to the fans — early, assured steps on a journey they hope will end with a trophy.

Elian Peltier contributed reporting.



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