Penalty heart-ache for Lionesses
Saturday, 09 July, 2011
World Cup ended by shoot-out with the French in Leverkusen.
By Glenn Lavery in Leverkusen
England's World Cup dreams were brought to a heart-breaking end in Leverkusen as Hope Powell's side missed out on a Semi-Final spot following a penalty shoot-out defeat against France.
It had looked as though England were going to reach the last four of the Women's World Cup for the first time with just a few minutes left on the clock but an 88th minute screamer from Elise Bussaglia cancelled out Jill Scott's opener and saw the game head into extra time.
With all three substitutions made by Powell and with Kelly Smith largely immobile due to injury, England had to dig deep to take the game to the lottery of a shoot-out, where Claire Rafferty and Faye White's off target spot-kicks saw France head into the Semi-Final.
There were three changes to the side that defeated Japan in the final group game as the experienced trio of captain Faye White, Fara Williams and Rachel Yankey were restored to the starting eleven in place of Sophie Bradley, Anita Asante and Jess Clarke respectively.
Straight from the kick-off, England were on the attack as Karen Carney slipped a through ball into Smith's path on the right side of the box. Smith rounded French goalkeeper Celine Deville but the covering Laura Georges prevented the concession of a goal after just 16 seconds. It would have been a dream start.
During a tense and cagey opening, Smith's effort aside, Williams was booked after just five minutes for a trip on Gaetane Thiney, who was one of only two French players to have an early shot at goal. Thiney's effort was blocked on the edge of the box by Jill Scott while Camille Abily's dipping try was just too high.
Not a great deal was being created but both sides were attempting to play through the thirds, with the French slightly on top by the midway point in the first half. After 25 minutes it was Thiney who was in the thick of the action once more as she tested Karen Bardsley with a well executed 20-yard volley. The England 'keeper got down at her left-hand post and parried the ball away. Louisa Necib then tried her luck from inside the area but it was just too high. The creative Lyon midfielder had started to dictate the play and her deep free-kick ten minutes before the break required Bardsley to punch the ball over the bar for a corner.
France were enjoying the better possession, forcing England to try and hit them on the counter attack, with Ellen White searching for the ball in behind every time, but the two sides went in goalless at half-time.
Just three minutes after the re-start Alex Scott produced a vital block to prevent Marie-Laure Delie a clean strike at goal from just ten yards out and from the next phase of play Delie shot inches wide of Bardsley's right-hand upright.
England, though, did carve out an opening of their own on 55 minutes when Rachel Unitt's left-wing cross found Everton club mate Jill Scott inside the box. The midfielder met the ball well in the air but it flashed just past the angle of post and bar. She soon made amends.
England started another attack down the left as Smith laid the ball off to Yankey who clipped it through to the eventual goalscorer. Jill Scott evaded the attention of her marker with a drop of the shoulder and burst towards goal. Ellen White was in support, as was Carney, but Scott ignored her team-mates and curled a 20-yard shot over Deville and into the back of the net.
France would probably have felt hard done by, having created more chances and they came again in search of the equaliser. Necib had another opportunity from a dead ball and Bardsley was fortuanate to claim the free-kick at the second attempt, having spilled the initial effort. Delie then fired over and that would begin a period of intense French pressure as they sought the goal that would prolong their stay in this World Cup. England, though, defended resolutely.
With just ten minutes left, Powell gave Steph Houghton and Claire Rafferty their World Cup debuts as they replaced the two full-backs, Alex Scott and Unitt respectively.
Unfortunately for England they couldn't hold out, and agonisingly conceded the equaliser with just two minutes remaining. Casey Stoney and Faye White had combined to clear a left-wing cross but the ball fell to Elise Bussaglia on the edge of the area and she curled it exquisitely beyond Bardsley and into the top corner. It was cruel on England, but it can't be said that France didn't deserve at least one goal from the game.
And so to extra-time. As is often the case in the extra half-an-hour, things were rather cagey early on. Faye White and Smith were visibly limping, but Powell had made all three substitutions so England were effectively playing with nine players.
However, it was England who fashioned the two best chances of the first period. First, Carney's volley on the turn was gathered by Deville, from substitute Anita Asante's scooped pass and then Ellen White was played in by Jill Scott. For a moment her drive looked destined for goal, but it brushed into the side-netting instead.
Bussaglia, who had inherited the armband following Sandrine Soubeyrand's substitution, fired high over the bar on 110 minutes and then struck harmlessly into Bardsley's arms shortly after, and players from both sides were beginning to look tired. Two French substitutes then combined as Elodie Thomis found Eugenie Le Sommer at the far post, though the latter was off target with her header.
England were being forced to defend through gritted teeth, but defend they did and they held on for penalties.
Camille Abily - saved by Bardsley
Kelly Smith - scored
Elise Bussaglia - scored
Karen Carney - scored
Gaetane Thiney - scored
Casey Stoney - scored
Sonia Bompastor - scored
Claire Rafferty - shot wide
Eugenie Le Sommer - scored
Faye White - shot hits bar and over