Eugenie Le Sommer’s 72nd-minute penalty – awarded after referee Bibiana Steinhaus had consulted VAR – secured a second win of the tournament for the joint-favourites.
Despite the lively Kadidiatou Diani impressing, Corinne Diacre’s French side lacked an end product in the opening 45 minutes as just two of their nine shots were on target.
But the hosts showed greater ruthlessness just 43 seconds into the second half as Amel Majri’s cross from the left was smashed first-time into the net by Valerie Gauvin.
Norway had enjoyed more possession despite only registering two attempts before the restart, but it took a calamitous own goal for them to restore parity eight minutes later.
Wendie Renard became the first player to score an own goal for France at a Women’s World Cup as she lost her bearings to steer the ball into her own net from Isabell Herlovsen’s cross.
Wendie Renard’s own goal had levelled the contest for Norway-Getty Images
But Ingrid Engen then followed through on Marion Torrent inside the box, and referee Steinhaus checked replays pitchside, France were handed the chance to restore their lead – and Le Sommer fired her spot-kick beyond Ingrid Hjelmseth to secure a nervy win.
The result means France move onto six points at the top of Group A, after their opening 4-0 win over South Korea, whose 2-0 loss to Nigeria earlier on Wednesday mean they prop up the table on zero points – all but destined to exit the tournament – with Norway and Nigeria both on three points and set to battle it out for second place.
TALKING POINT – Should France have been given a penalty?
The decision to award Les Bleues a spot-kick will divide opinion. The officials needed a good couple of minutes to decide if it was a foul. There is an argument that Engen won the ball first and the slow-motion made the incident look much worse than it actually was. Then again, she did follow through on Torrent and it was rather clumsy.
The relief from the hosts was evident as Le Sommer dispatched the penalty – France have secured the points in what was their first real test and all but sealed their place in the knockout round.
Norway players react as Referee Bibiana Steinhaus points to the penalty spot-Getty Images
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – Kadidiatou Diani (France)
The electric Diani down the right flank caused Norway a massive defensive headache, particularly in the first-half and forced her manager into a tactical re-think. Left-back Kristine Minde will be having nightmares for weeks having struggled to deal with her direct running, strength and intelligent movement.
France: Bouhaddi 5, Renard 5, Mbock 6, 7, Majri 7, Henry 8, Thiney 6, Bussaglia 6, Diani 9, Guavin 7, Le Sommer 7.. subs: Bilbault N/A, Cascarino N/A.
Norway: Hjelmseth 6, Wold 6, Thorisdottir 5, Mjelde 6, Minde 4, Engen 5, Boe Risa 5, Reiten 6, Saevik 6, Herlovsen 6, Hansen 6.. subs: Maanum N/A, Utland 4, S Hansen N/A
Kadidiatou Diani was the stand-out performer for France-Getty Images
15′ – CLOSE! A well-executed corner delivery is met by Engen at the near post, her bullet header is goal-bound only for a crucial intervention by Majiri who somehow heads it over her own bar. Norway close to breaking the deadlock there.
24′ – CHANCE! Norway are struggling with the movement and power of Diani down the right flank. She weaves her way to the by-line and drills a lovely ball across the face of goal, finding Gauvin but she doesn’t get enough power in her ambitious flicked shot to trouble the goalkeeper.
46′ – GOAL! France 1-0 Norway: Inside the first minute of the restart and Gauvin scores for the hosts! It’s good build-up play down the left, Majri swings it in and Gauvin gets a yard ahead of her marker to knock it past the goalkeeper. We have lift-off!
54′ – GOAL! France 1-1 Norway: An own-goal lets Norway back into the game! Renard – France’s heroine of the opening game – loses her bearings and under no pressure, taps Herlovsen’s relatively harmless cross into the back of her own net at the far post – it’s a striker’s finish!
71′ – PENALTY TO FRANCE! France pounce on a Thorisdottir mistake in the Norway defence, before Torrent is caught by a late Engen challenge inside the box – what is the referee going to give here? It’s going to VAR… Engen missed her clearance, catching Torrent on the follow-through… and after a lengthy stoppage the referee awards the penalty! Engen is booked as well.
72′ – GOAL! France 2-1 Norway: Le Sommer grabs her second goal of the tournament and France’s second of the night with a well-taken penalty. She slides it below the goalkeeper with a perfectly-placed effort to the left.
- Wendie Renard is the first player to score an own-goal for France at a Women’s World Cup tournament.
- Eugenie Le Sommer has now equalled Marie-Laure Delie as Les Bleues’ top scorer at the World Cup with five goals. She has scored 12 goals in her last 12 international appearances for France, including a goal in both of France’s games at this year’s tournament.
- France have won 15 of their last 16 internationals, losing only to Germany (0-1 in February 2019) during this run. In these 16 games, they have outscored their opponents 54-6.