England beat France 1-0 for the first time in 43 years to reach the Women’s Euro 2017 semi-finals.
England, who have lost to France in their past three major tournaments, finally overcame their bogey team to progress to the semi-finals.
The Lionesses were full of confidence after topping Group D with an 100% win record. Les Bleus however won just one of their group games, drawing the other two.
Both sides started the game well with hosts Netherlands awaiting the winner in the semi-finals.
England’s best chance in the first half came through a Jordan Nobbs set piece. The Arsenal midfielder’s free-kick was met at the far post by Millie Bright but her header was just wide.
Camile Abily and Eugenie le Sommer had half chances for France but England keeper Karen Bardsley was alert to any potential danger.
The first half was quite a cagey affair with no shots on target from either side. For the first time in the 2017 Women’s Euro, England failed to score a goal in the opening 45 minutes of a match.
Both sides continued to play their cards close to their chest when the second half began. Neither team could really make their mark on the game. Le Sommer had a great chance in the 55th minute but her header flashed just past the post.
On the hour mark, Jodie Taylor came to life. With one chance she gave England the lead, scoring her fifth goal of the tournament. Lucy Bronze, one of England’s best players on the night, played in Taylor whose cool finish beat France keeper Sarah Bouhaddi. Jodie Taylor has now scored the most goals for England at a major tournament, overtaking Kelly Smith who scored four goals at the 2007 World Cup finals.
After going ahead, England seemed even more nervous and goalkeeper Karen Bardsley went off injured after going down three times to add to the nerves. Siobhan Chamberlain came on to replace her, as she did in the World Cup quarter-final two years ago.
France could have equalised in the closing stages of the game. Claire Lavogez put in an excellent free-kick which was cleared then blocked twice before Lavogez fired wide. Mark Sampson’s side were living dangerously.
With six minutes of injury time to play, England managed to keep calm and stop France for getting a late equaliser.
The Lionesses won 1-0 thanks to Jodie Taylor who once again proved to be the difference. England have not defeated France since 1974. It was a long time coming, but all the best things are worth waiting for.
France, who have never reached the Euro semi-finals, didn’t make things easy for England but in the end the Lionesses were just more determined. They will face hosts the Netherlands on Thursday and it’s fair to say, they’ll be extremely confident.
England Starting XI: Bardsley (Chamberlain 75), Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes, Scott, Moore, Kirby, White, Nobbs, Taylor
Unused substitutes: Potter, Christiansen, Williams, Stoney, Carney, Bassett, Parris, Duggan, Greenwood, Telford, Scott
France Starting XI: Bouhaddi, Houara, Georges, Mbock Bathy, Karchaoui, Geyoro, Abily (Lavogez 78), Henry, Le Sommer, Delie (Le Bihan 90), Diani (Thomis 65)
Unused substitutes: Philippe, Toletti, Catala, Tounkara, Bussaglia, Thiney, Gerard