Double triumph for France

France defeated Norway for the first time in 24 years - and repeated the feat three days later in a two-game series.

By Christian Châtelet

France have confirmed their status as WOMEN'S EURO 2005 contenders by defeating Norway for the first time in 24 years - and then repeating the feat three days later.

Early goals
The games were played in the Spanish resort of La Manga, where both squads were on a training camp. In the opening encounter on Saturday, France took the lead on three minutes through Marinette Pichon, her 72nd goal for Les Bleues, and six minutes later experienced centre-back Corinne Diacre doubled the advantage, her side holding on to win 2-0.

Diguelman winner
France again struck early in the second friendly, 20-year-old forward Ludivine Diguelman taking just four minutes to score the only goal of the game against the two-time European and former world and Olympic champions.

Loisel happy
Elisabeth Loisel, whose France side meet Norway along with Italy and holders Germany in Group B this June in England, said: "Before this camp we wondered if we should cancel those ties as we were drawn in the same group as Norway. At the end of the day our decision to play proved fruitful. One of my aims was to mix youth and experience and it proved successful."

Diguelman's delight
Montpellier Hérault SC player Diguelman bolstered her own reputation, and said: "For the experienced players it was a real achievement to win those games and show they can challenge Norway - and it was fabulous to be with them at that moment."

Algarve tournament
Both France and Norway return to action in the Algarve tournament from 9 March. France are in a group with Olympic champions the United States and WOMEN'S EURO contenders Denmark and Finland, while Norway are drawn with China, Germany and Sweden.