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New Zealand makes history, joins France in final 8

New Zealand defeated Costa Rica, 3-0 on Wednesday in the U-20 Women’s World Cup, earning the Football Ferns their first trip to the World Cup quarterfinals at any age level. New Zealand finished second in Group D, behind a dominant France side, which won the group after beating Paraguay, 3-0.

Steph Skilton opened the scoring for New Zealand in the 24th minute, and Megan Lee doubled the Football Ferns’ lead in the 69th minute before Tayla O’Brien scored a third deep into stoppage time. New Zealand will next face the winner of Group C on Sunday.

“The semifinals has always been our goal because we believe we have the drive and the talent to get there,” Katie Bowen said. “We’ve still got that game in our minds. But knowing we’ve created history is something you can’t describe in words.”

Faustine Robert scored twice early for France — a penalty in the 5th minute and an open-play goal two minutes later — to lift Les Bleuettes into the quarterfinals. They will face the Group C runners-up on Sunday.

New Zealand will now play Group C winner Nigeria on Sunday in the quarterfinals, while South Korea will take on France.

Germany, the U.S., North Korea and Canada all advanced to the quarterfinals on Tuesday. The U.S., Group B runner-up, will take on Group A winner North Korea, while Group A runner-up and host Canada will face Group B winner Germany. Both of those games will take place on Saturday.

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