There was bound to be a moment of individual heroism to decide who would advance to the quarterfinals from the Round of 16 match between France and Brazil on Sunday at the Women’s World Cup.
It’s just how an extra-time match goes: someone is going to be the hero who scores the decisive goal either in one of the extra 30 minutes or once it gets to penalty kicks.
France’s hero of the 2-1 win on home soil was not, however, Amadine Henry, who put home the decisive goal in the 106th minute shortly after the second half of extra time began.
Just before the brief intermission separating two halves of extra time, Griedge Mbock Bathy delivered the more important moment in Le Havre.
In the 104th minute, the France defense lost track of Debinha charging down the left sideline.
Brazil found the forward in space and she raced toward the goal mouth to get a one-on-one opportunity with the goalkeeper.
Sarah Bouhaddi was out of options, so she did all she could and tried to cut off the angle.
It bought France’s defense maybe a split second of extra time, which was exactly what Mbock Bathy needed. As Debinha fired the wound-be go-ahead goal, the center back threw herself in front of the net for a potential game-saving block.
The potential complexion of the game shifted entirely for the final 15 minutes.
Instead of packing in its defense, Brazil had to play straight up at Stade Oceane and France pounced on the first opportunity to emerge. France almost immediately won a free kick on the right wing at the start of the second half of extra time and winger Amel Majri lifted a perfect cross into the box, which Henry tapped home to flip the match in France’s favor.
This was supposed to be the first titanic matchup of the World Cup and both sides delivered in a meeting of top-10 teams.