The Three Lions exit UEFA Women's Euro 2013 following 3-0 defeat to France
France 3-0 England
UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 Finals
7.30pm BST, Thursday 18 July
Linköping Arena, Sweden
Live on BBC Three
by Glenn Lavery in Linköping
England’s Euro 2013 campaign came to a disappointing end as they were beaten 3-0 by France, meaning they finish bottom of Group C.
After losing to Spain and grabbing a last-gasp draw against Russia, an England win would have guaranteed a quarter final berth.
A draw might also have been enough to progress but England were second best for the majority of the game and will not get the chance to go one better than their runners-up spot four years ago.
Eugénie Le Sommer opened the scoring in the ninth minute and two goals inside three second-half minutes confirmed the Three Lions’ exit from the competition.
Louisa Necib curled home a sweet 20-yard effort just after the hour mark and Wendie Renard nodded home a corner soon after to seal a French win.
Hope Powell’s side were fourth favourites coming into this tournament after an unbeaten qualifying campaign, but they never got going. They showed character to snatch a late draw against Russia but never performed as they know they can and the players will be devastated to be going home this early.
There were three changes to the starting eleven that began the previous two group games as Powell altered her system from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2.
Jill Scott dropped to the bench as Toni Duggan, England’s saviour against Russia on Monday, joined Ellen White upfront.
Sophie Bradley, who had recovered from an ankle injury picked up against Sweden earlier this month, replaced Laura Bassett at centre back and Karen Carney came in for the injured Rachel Yankey.
Bruno Bini’s side had already qualified for the last eight and the manager made six changes from the team that beat Spain on Monday. And it was one of the new players, Le Sommer, that punished England early on.
Les Bleus were dominant throughout and they offered a warning of their capabilities in just the eighth minute when the would-be goalscorer thumped a 20-yard shot against Karen Bardsley’s right-hand upright.
But she was more accurate with her next effort moments later. Pacy midfielder Élodie Thomis broke into the England box and was tackled by Steph Houghton. The ball fell kindly to Le Sommer who swept home an angled drive.
The blue tide continued as experienced skipper Sandrine Soubeyrand fired a 25-yard effort just over.
Thomis reached Necib’s through ball and called Bardsley into action at her near post. A well-timed tackle from Bradley prevented Thomis a clean strike at goal when clean through and Bardsley was called into action once more, this time to deny Necib.
England didn’t see much of the ball in the first half as France forced them onto the back foot from the off, with Soubeyrand, Necib and Thomis to the fore.
The second half, however, began a lot better from an English perspective as Jill Scott’s introduction, for Anita Asante, injected more bite and urgency in the midfield.
But Thomis’s pace had caused problems all evening and she should have doubled France’s lead just before the hour, as she latched onto Necib’s through ball before firing her shot wide.
With the Three Lions chasing the game, Hope Powell introduced Kelly Smith after 61 minutes, but the rout was complete soon after with two quick-fire goals.
Necib collected Le Sommer’s pass on the 18-yard line and curled expertly beyond Bardsley for number two.
The majestic Lyon midfielder turned provider just two minutes later as her corner was headed home by centre back Renard.
In the end, England exited a tournament at the group stage for the first time since 2005. They know they haven’t performed to the high standards they set themselves and they never really recovered from the added-time defeat to Spain in the opening game, despite Duggan’s late heroics against Russia.
Recent victories over Japan, Sweden and USA suggest England are always capable of producing a big performance against the world’s top teams, but Euro 2013 proved a bridge too far as they slipped out of the tournament at the first hurdle.
Today they came up against a rapidly improving French side, many's tip for the tournament, and on this evidence it will take a very good side to beat them.
Despite the disappointment on the pitch, this tournament could prove to be a watershed moment for the women’s game in England, courtesy of BBC’s unprecedented exposure of the team. Over a million viewers watched each of the group games live, while Radio 5Live and BBC Online provided extensive coverage throughout July.
The BBC will be back on board when the new season gets begins.
Attention now shifts to September’s 2015 World Cup qualifier against Belarus.
1 Karen Bardsley, 2 A Scott, 3 Steph Houghton, 5 Sophie Bradley, 6 Casey Stoney (C), 7 Eniola Aluko (22 Kelly Smith, 61), 8 Anita Asante (4 Jill Scott, 46), 9 Ellen White, 10 Fara Williams, 14 Karen Carney (12 Jess Clarke, 73), 17 Toni Duggan.
Substitutes not used 13 Rachel Brown-Finnis, 15 Laura Bassett, 16 Jordan Nobbs, 18 Dunia Susi, 19 Gemma Bonner, 20 Jade Moore, 21 Lucy Bronze, 23 Siobhan Chamberlain.
National Coach Hope Powell
1 Céline Deville, 2 Wendie Renard, 6 Sandrine Soubeyrand (C) (8 Élise Bussaglia, 46), 7 Corine Franco, 9 Eugénie Le Sommer, 10 Amandine Henry (13 Camille Catala, 61), 12 Élodie Thomis, 14 Louisa Necib, 15 Jessica Houara, 17 Gaëtane Thiney (23 Camille Abily 46), 22 Sabrina Delannoy.
Substitutes not used 3 Laure Boulleau, 4 Laura Georges, 5 Ophélie Meilleroux, 11 Julie Soyer, 16 Sara Bouhaddi (GK), 18 Marie-Laure Delie, 19 Sandrine Bretigny, 20 Viviane Asseyi, 21 Karima Benameur (GK).
Referee Kirsi Heikkinen (FIN)