France holds on to beat Germany and line up Spain in Women’s Nations League final

LYON, France (AP) — France scored two first-half goals and held on to beat Germany 2-1 and reach the final of the inaugural Women’s Nations League on Friday.

Coach Hervé Renard’s side will play Spain away in the final next Wednesday after the Women’s World Cup winner beat the Netherlands 3-0 in the other semifinal.

“Congratulations to the girls, they have been remarkable, but only half the journey is complete,” Renard said. “Spain are the best team in the world at the moment so it’s a big challenge. But we have everything to win.”

Forward Kadidiatou Diani put France ahead in the 41st minute when she volleyed home after Germany’s defense failed to properly clear a free kick.

The home side moved further ahead in first half injury time when defender Sakina Karchaoui struck a powerful penalty past goalkeeper Merle Frohms, after Selma Bacha was fouled.

France was without injured center half Wendie Renard but was untroubled until midfielder Sara Däbritz went close with a powerful shot from 25 meters in the 75th as the visitors cranked up the pressure.

Soon after, Amandine Henry handled the ball on a cross, and a penalty was awarded following a video review. Right back Giulia Gwinn rifled the spot kick into the roof of the net in the 82nd to give Germany hope in front of 30,000 fans at Lyon’s Groupama Stadium.

Spain’s win qualified it for the Paris Olympics, where Les Bleues are already qualified as a host country.

Before that event, Renard has a chance to win some much-needed silverware next week at La Cartuja Stadium in Sevilla.

France’s men’s soccer team has won two World Cups and two European Championships, but the women’s team has fallen short at the highest level. Despite boasting some of the world’s best players, the women’s team lost their only World Cup semifinal 13 years ago to the United States. ___

AP soccer:

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