With 37 places separating the two sides in the Womens FIFA rankings, France looked to start their World Cup campaign with a win, whilst Jamaica aimed to cause a major upset in Group F.
It was a fast-paced start to the game with both teams looking to make their mark. Despite France enjoying more possession, Jamaica looked the more dangerous team and were awarded the first corner of the game. Wendie Renard won the first battle between herself and Jamaica’s star player Shaw, thumping into Khadija Shaw whilst heading away from the corner.
In the opening quarter of the game, Jamaica were showing promise and a clear intent that they were not here to make up numbers. This was optimised by the powerful Shaw driving at the heart of the French defense getting her team up the pitch after periods of defending. As well as her impressive hold up play Shaw was hunting down the French defenders when out of possession, setting the tone for her teammates.
Meanwhile France were unable to find their rhythm in the opening 25 minutes, misplacing passes and not being able to create any meaningful chances. Credit must be given to the hard-working Jamaica who were organised out of possession and didn't allow the French players any time and space on the ball.
The first chance of the game came in the 35th minute for France’s Kadidiatou Diani with her low shot parried out for a corner by Becky Spencer. The resulting corner was dangerously swung in on the Jamaica goalmouth with Renard attacking the ball and heading over from a couple yards out.
Shortly before the half, French goalkeeper Peyruad-Magnin produced a superb fingertip save to prevent a stunning goal from Bunny Shaw who leathered a free-kick from 30 yards out.
France’s best spell of the first half came in added time, where they threatened to open the scoring from set pieces and crosses into the box. The noticeable chance falling once again to French forward Diani, who had her shot deflected just wide of the post.
The whistle blew for half-time with the scores locked at 0-0.
France started to assert their dominance at the start of the second half controlling possession and pinning Jamaica in their own half. Despite this Jamaica were defending well and prevented France from any clear-cut opportunities.
As France looked for solutions to breakdown the stubborn Jamaican defence and find the breakthrough, France turned to their bench and brought on Kenza Dali and Vicki Becho. Aston Villa’s Kenza Dali nearly made an instant impact crossing the ball to the back post for Diani who was unable to get her headed attempt on target.
France came agonisingly close to a 90th minute-winner when Diani headed a delightful cross from Vicki Becho past Spencer in the Jamaica goal but it struck the bar and was cleared by the Jamaica defense.
With Jamaica holding on in added time, Jamaica’s star player Khadija Shaw picked up her second yellow for a late sliding challenge on Wendie Renard and was sent off meaning she will miss Jamaica’s next group game against Panama on Saturday.
Despite going down to 10 men for the final minutes of the game, Jamaica stood strong and defended against the relentless waves of crosses into the box from France and managed to hold on for a monumental result against the 5th best Women’s team in the world.
France next game will be a tough test against Brazil and they will need to improve on this performance if they are to get a result against a very good Brazil side. Meanwhile Jamaica will be hoping to take this hard-earnt performance into their game against Panama. Despite being without Shaw, due to her suspension, they will know that if they can win against Panama they will have a strong chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.