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US, France in scoreless draw

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By HENRY MORABANG
FRANCE’s player-of-the-match Delphine Cascarino is positive her side could get a better result after a scoreless draw last night against the United States in their group C fixture at the Under-20 Women’s World Cup at the PNG Football Stadium, Waigani.
Cascarino said she was excited to play alongside twin sister Estelle and hoped to win the Cup for France.
Billed as the clash-of-the-group C heavyweights, both teams were equally-matched in all departments in the warm Port Moresby conditions.
Cascarino said her team had a lot of opportunities but did not convert them into points.
Coach Gilles Eyquem said through an interpreter that his team had many chances but could not find the net against the two-time U20 title holders.
US coach Michelle French praised her women for standing up in the humid Port Moresby conditions to deny France.
“I want to thank France for giving us a strong challenge,” French said.
“We survived because of two weeks acclimatising in Cairns before the tournament; that helped us through.”
USA striker Mallory Pugh always looked dangerous, befitting her place on the senior Stars and Stripes’ side.
Notably, one direct run cut straight through the heart of the French defence but despite a well-hit low shot, she was denied by Mylene Chavas’ cat-like diving save.
The chance of the match came for France on the hour-mark with an opening created by the fierce pace and close control of the impressive Delphine Cascarino.
The Lyon forward burst down the right, beat her defender and pulled back for Clara Mateo, but Maddie Elliston made a crucial block virtually on the goal line.
Suddenly the match was alive as the sun started to set and the temperature dropped slightly.
Almost immediately Pugh had a decent opening after a typically driving run, but she fired over under pressure.
The tempo quickened and the spaces opened up, but there was to be no goals despite both teams pushing for a winner.
France, though, enjoyed more possession in the latter stages and proved they would be a real handful at the U20 women’s tournament.
Both teams will return to the PNG Football Stadium on Thursday, with France playing Ghana at 4pm while New Zealand take on the US in the main game at 7pm.

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