Sophie Ingle effort not enough as Wales beaten by France in World Cup qualifier
Wales suffered a 2-1 defeat in Women’s World Cup qualifying as France maintained their 100 per cent record at Llanelli.
Wendie Renard and Marie-Antoinette Katoto scored as France, who are ranked third in the world – 28 places above Wales – made it seven wins from as many games.
Sophie Ingle halved the deficit with a deflected strike 19 minutes from time, and Wales were denied an equaliser when Gemma Evans’ header was ruled out for offside.
Helen Ward was sent on in stoppage time to win her 100th cap and become the fourth Welsh woman to reach the milestone after Ingle, Jess Fishlock and Loren Dykes.
Slovenia’s 2-0 win in Kazakhstan moved them one point above Wales in the race for second place and a play-off spot.
But Slovenia have played one game more than Gemma Grainger’s side and visit France on Tuesday.
Wales play away to Kazakhstan, who are yet to collect a point from six games, on the same night.
France had won 2-0 when the sides met in Brittany in November and dominated the early stages at Parc y Scarlets with Paris St Germain winger Kadidiatou Diani a constant danger.
Diani had two chances to open the scoring in a matter of seconds after 16 minutes.
Laura O’Sullivan denied her first effort at the near post before France recycled possession and she slotted wide.
Wales had some bright moments in a competitive first half despite often being penned back by France’s elegant one-touch football.
Ingle saw an effort blocked following a penalty-box scramble and Fishlock failed to capitalise on Pauline Peyraud-Magnin’s poor punch in the France goal.
Manchester United’s Carrie Jones, deputising for the suspended Kayleigh Green, also forced a near-post save from Peyraud-Magnin.
France broke the deadlock after 31 minutes just seconds after O’Sullivan had superbly pushed away Renard’s effort.
Sandie Toletti swung over another corner and Renard rose highest again to score with a carbon-copy header.
France doubled their lead after 57 minutes when O’Sullivan’s attempted clearance was blocked by Katoto, who was left with the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net.
Ingle set up a grandstand finish with her fifth Wales goal as she fired through a crowd of France defenders.
Diani had a late effort scrambled off the line and France now need one more win to secure qualification for next year’s finals in Australia and New Zealand.
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