Wales Women were beaten 2-0 by group leaders France in their World Cup qualifying clash in Guingamp on Tuesday night.
Unbeaten so far in qualifying, Gemma Grainger’s side went to Brittany in full knowledge of the task ahead of them against a French side ranked fifth in the world.
Wales held their own for much of the match, however, a momentary lapse in concentration at the end of the first half allowed Kadidiatou Diani to capitalise and put the hosts ahead at the break.
Wales probed during the second half and didn’t seem to be perturbed when striker Kayleigh Green was sent off for a second yellow card on the 69th minute.
Pushing hard for an equaliser late on, Jess Fishlock almost snatched a point for the visitors in stoppage time as her shot struck the post.
Sensing an opportunity to wrap the game up, France broke on the counter-attack and Selma Bacha slammed home to seal the victory for France.
Defeat shows how far Wales have come
Speaking after the match, Wales manager Gemma Grainger said: “I am disappointed but we are competing in a game with 10 players and we nearly equalised against France.
“While I am disappointed, I am so proud we are in a position where we wanted to be, and I forgot we were down to 10 players, and that tells you where we are at in terms of the progress.”
Natasha Harding said: “For us now, we have to take confidence from this game.
“If we’d had 11 players on the pitch the result would have been a bit different.”
Commenting on Kayleigh Green’s second red card of the campaign, Grainger said: “I'm disappointed with the red card.
"We have to focus on the things we can control, and we all have to learn from it.
“When we go into 2022 and the second half of this campaign, we can reduce those things from happening."
The result leaves Wales second in the qualifying group, five points behind France but two ahead of Slovenia.
Wales now wait until April to host France in the next round of qualifiers, before traveling to Kazakhstan.