Lionesses suffer narrow defeat to France in World Cup opener

Tuesday 09 Jun 2015
England fell to a narrow defeat in Moncton

England Women’s World Cup campaign has begun with a narrow 1-0 defeat by France in Moncton.

Eugenie Le Sommer scored the only goal of the game after 29 minutes, when she crashed home a thunderous strike from the edge of the box.

Chances were few and far between in an ultimately cagey encounter, though France perhaps shaded proceedings, certainly in terms of opportunities created.

England 0-1 France

2015 FIFA Women's World Cup
Group F
Tuesday 9 June
Moncton Stadium, New Brunswick

The Three Lions have not beaten France since November 1974 and the wait goes on, though this was never going to be the easiest of tasks against an in-form team ranked third in the world.

Head coach Mark Sampson adopted a slightly different formation for this World Cup opener, with Lucy Bronze, normally a centre back for her country, employed wide on the left, presumably to negate the pace and threat of Elodie Thomis.

It was a tactic that worked well as Thomis was substituted midway through the second half.

Eugenie Le Sommer celebrates her 29th-minute strike

Fara Williams took up her usual position as the midfield pivot with Eniola Aluko, the Three Lions’ top scorer in qualifying, the sole striker.

Ellen White started wide on the right, Laura Bassett collected her 50th cap and Katie Chapman appeared in her first World Cup match since 2007.

It was a tight and nervy opening period, as could probably be expected from the opening group match at a World Cup, which was a re-run of the 2011 quarter final in Germany.

The Lionesses forced a couple of early corners and Le Sommer had a 12-yard volley deflected wide. 

Karen Bardsley was called into action for the first time shortly after, when she got down well at her near post to punch away Louisa Necib’s angled free-kick.

She was then required to thwart Gaetane Thiney’s low drive, from a similar position, shortly after. 

However, the Manchester City goalkeeper was beaten by the next effort.

With the clock approaching the half-hour mark, Thiney pounced on the ball just outside the box after a loose touch by Chapman and found Le Sommer.

Amandie Henry and Katie Champan copete for possession

The striker took a couple of touches before unleashing a sweet 20-yard strike into the top corner.

Sampson’s side responded well, but only had a Chapman’s off-target attempt to show for their efforts.

At the start of the second half Le Sommer again looked the player most likely to score. She hit one shot straight into Bardsley’s arms before she struck a volley over the bar.

England’s Jill Scott cut a formidable figure in midfield and picked up a slight knock when reaching a corner from Aluko. 

Unfortunately for her, the side-footed shot was comfortable for Sarah Bouhaddi in the France goal.

England boss Mark Sampson looks on in Moncton

Sampson sensed England's confidence had begun to grow. He made two attacking changes midway through the second period. 

Toni Duggan and Fran Kirby came on for Ellen White and Alex Scott respectively.

But the Lionesses were unable to find an equaliser despite applying some late pressure.

They will look to bounce back in their second group match, against Mexico on Saturday 13 June. Kick-off is at 9pm BST.

France: 16 Sarah Bouhaddi, 2 Wendie Renard (C), 3 Laure Georges, 6 Amandine Henry, 8 Jessica Houara, 9 Eugenie Le Sommer, 10 Camille Abily, 12 Elodie Thomis, 14 Louisa Necib, 17 Gaetane Thiney.

Substitutes: 7 Kenzi Dali for Thomis 72, 15 Elise Bussaglia for Le Sommer 81, 11 Claire Lavogez for Necib 83

Substitutes not used: 1 Celine Deville, 5 Sabrina Delannoy, 13 Kadidiatou Diani, 18 Marie Laure Delie, 19 Griedge Mbock Bathy, 20 Annaig Butel, 21 Melanie Gerard, 22 Amel Majri, 23 Kheira Hamraoui.

Goals: Le Sommer 29

Head coach: Phillippe Bergeroo

England (4-1-4-1): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal), 5 Steph Houghton (captain; Manchester City), 6 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 3 Claire Rafferty (Chelsea); 4 Fara Williams (Liverpool); 23 Ellen White (Notts County), 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 16 Katie Chapman (Chelsea), 12 Lucy Bronze (Manchester City); 9 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea).

Substitutes: 18 Toni Duggan (Manchester City) for White 60, 22 Fran Kirby (Reading) for A Scott 69, 11 Jade Moore (Birmingham City) for Chapman 76

Bookings: Chapman 66

Substitutes not used: 7 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), 10 Karen Carney (Birmingham City), , 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal), 14 Alex Greenwood (Notts County), 15 Casey Stoney (Arsenal), 17 Jo Potter (Birmingham City), 19 Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns), 20 Lianne Sanderson (Arsenal), 21 Carly Telford (Notts County).

Head coach: Mark Sampson

Referee: Thalia Mitsi

By Glenn Lavery in Moncton, New Brunswick