Eugenie Le Sommier celebrates the first goal of the Women’s World Cup. (USAToday Photo)
PARIS — The French national team sent a message to the rest of the Women’s World Cup Friday:
Be scared, be very scared.
During a scintillating first half of the opening game, the host side cut through South Korea as though it was putting on a clinic rather that kicking off the eighth edition of the world championship at Parc des Princes.
France rolled to a 3-0 halftime lead with an imposing and entertaining performance and it stood that way until the final whistle before a sellout crowd.
Wendie Renard, who was named player of the match led the way with a pair of headers off corner kicks only 10 minutes apart late in the half after the elusive Eugenie Le Sommier struck for the opening score. Captain Amandine Henry added a late goal to cap off a memorable and rousing night.
By some observers, the French are touted to be the favorites in this tournament, giving their experience, talent and the facts they are hosts. If they showed any nerves in the match, it never was apparent.
If Les Bleus follow form as do the defending champion and No. 1 ranking U.S. side, the two squads will meet in the quarterfinals back here in Paris later this month.
Of course, that confrontation was far from anyone’s mind Thursday as the French put on a show for their faithful supporters.
After dominating from the start, France penetrated down the right side several times before Le Sommier put away a cross from that flank to give the host side all the scoring it needed in the ninth minute.
Of course, the relentless French were not satisfied and kept on coming in waves, denying the Koreans any significant possession, especially past the center circle, minutes at a time.
In a rarity, Renard scored her corners with service coming from opposite ends of the field.
First, she powered home a ball from the right corner flat for a two-goal advantage in the 35th minute.
Then, she headed home a shot off a corner kick from the left side two minutes into first-half stoppage time, which turned out to be the last play of the half.
The French went on cruise control in the second half, but still attacked. They added a fourth goal in the 85th minute when Henry drilled a 20-yard strike from the left side into the far-left corner.
The closet the Koreans came to scoring was in the 77th minute when M A Lee found herself in a 1 v 1 position with the goalkeeper, but sent her 12-yard attempt wide left.