England 0-0 France
FIFA 2007 Women's World Cup qualifier
England v France
Sunday 26 March 2006
Blackburn Rovers FC
England were held to a creditable draw at home to France, but after a confident and composed display from Hope Powell's young side they will feel they could have had more.
In a slow start to the game England bossed the possession but failed to turn it into clear openings, but given the stature of their opponents it is a mark of how far they have come that they will be disappointed not to win here.
After the game Hope Powell was positive about the strides being made by England.
She said: "I am happy that we have come away with something from the game, I would have been happier with three points but we are still top of the group and we can be very positive about what we have done.
"The players were all nervous this week, the team we were facing, the pressure of the qualifiers. But as they got into the game they realised they could more than match them.
"They are fifth in the world and we are catching them. They are pleased to get a point here and that says something about us.
"Goalkeeper Rachel Brown was outstanding again for us, we come to expect that. But I don't think that we were really under the cosh, more that she stepped up and delivered when called upon.
"But you have to give credit to them all out there, they gave everything and they should be very proud of their performances."
Fara Williams had the first effort on target, an ambitious effort from all of 30 yards. Her free-kick was well struck but failed to trouble Sarah Bouhaddi in the French goal.
Midway through the first period England enjoyed a sustained spell in attack, with Carney and Yankey feeding off the controlled build up play of Kelly Smith.
Both Carney and Yankey were able to take on the French fullbacks with pace and power and sent some dangerous balls into the box.
From another run by Carney England were awarded a free-kick and it was Carney again getting on the end of Yankey's ball, but unfortunately she was unable to hit the target.
After 31 minutes Kelly Smith had an unobstructed shot on goal, finding herself on the end of a rebound from a corner.
The bouncing ball didn't come down quickly enough however, and the chance was gone.
Eniola Aluko has been in fine form for Charlton of late, and almost added to her growing reputation with another goal for England. Creating the chance from virtually nothing, she almost gave England the lead.
Karen Carney then broke into the box and looked as though she may have won a penalty. Her claims were waved away but she responded quicker than her opponent and nearly presented Aluko with a scoring chance but the ball was cleared for a corner.
Some sloppy play nearly cost England dear, Katie Chapman gave the ball straight to Tonazzi who narrowly missed the vacant goal.
Minutes later Rachel Brown came to the rescue when substitute Marinette Pichon headed the ball powerfully toward the England goal.
Brown managed to get a touch on the ball and pushed it against the post from where it rebounded to safety.
Brown was again called into action on 65 minutes when Laetitia Tonazzi hit a firm and accurate shot towards the far post, Brown got a strong hand behind the ball to push it clear of the onrushing Pichon.
Up the other end England almost took the lead from an unusual source, when Casey Stoney's cross sailed over Bouhaddi's head. It seemed goalbound but was inches over the bar.
For all their endeavour England were unable to create the clear opportunity in the second-half that their play deserved, and will now look forward to their next qualifier at home to Austria on 20 April.
England: Rachel Brown, Casey Stoney, Rachel Unitt, Anita Asante (Vicky Exley 88), Katie Chapman, Mary Phillip (c), Karen Carney, Fara Williams, Eniola Aluko (Alex Scott 75), Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey.
Subs: Josanne Potter, Siobhan Chamberlain, Amanda Barr, Alex Scott, Vicky Exley, Lindsay Johnson, Sue Smith.
France: Sarah Bouhaddi, Anne-Laure Casseleux, Peggy Provost, Laura Georges, Sabrina Viguier, Sandrine Soubeyrand, Elise Bussaglia (Amelie Coquet 87), Sonia Bompastor, Hoda Lattaf (Marinette Pichon 65), Camille Abily, Laetitia Tonazzi
Subs: Elodie Thomis, Louisa Necib, Laure Lepailleur, Celine Deville, Maire-Ange Kramo.
Ref: Bente Ovedie Skogvang