France snatched a 95th-minute winner to condemn England to a losing start in the SheBelieves Cup.
The Lionesses were superb in the opening 45 minutes and deservedly took the lead with a goal from vice-captain Jordan Nobbs.
Mark Sampson’s team were looking good for a first victory over Les Bleues since 1974, but Marie Laure Delie headed the sides level with 10 minutes to play before Wendie Renard’s sucker-punch.
- SheBelieves Cup
- Wednesday 1 March 2017
- Talen Energy Stadium, Pennsylvania
England played with great intensity in the opening 30 minutes against their opponents, third in the world rankings, with Ellen White at the heart of their best work.
The Birmingham City striker found space on the right side of the penalty area and was expertly picked out by Nobbs. White struck first time but her fierce effort was pushed wide by Sarah Bouhaddi.
Demi Stokes, up from the back, was next to try and turn provider. White rose highest in the box to meet the Manchester City defender’s left-wing cross, but her header looped up harmlessly over the crossbar.
Nobbs, the England fans’ player of 2016, was next to try her luck with a half volley from 20 yards, which the busy Bouhaddi was well positioned to block.
Inevitably it was Nobbs who opened the scoring on 32 minutes. Defender Griedge Mbock Bathy gave the ball away to Jill Scott 25 yards from the France goal.
Scott immediately shifted the ball to her left where Nobbs let fly with a fizzing low effort to grab her fourth goal for the Lionesses.
On the stroke of half-time Jodie Taylor raced on to a through pass from Nobbs, jinked past Mbock Bathy, but the ball was smothered at her feet by Bouhaddi before she could get a shot away.
Karen Bardsley, untroubled for the first 45 minutes, was in action seconds after the restart, racing off her line to close down the angle and block Kadidiatou Diani’s strike.
On the hour Marie Laure Delie got ahead of Lucy Bronze to meet Diani’s knock down, but blasted high over the crossbar.
With 10 minutes to go France levelled. Elodie Thomis, only introduced from the bench three minutes earlier, crossed from the right, and Delie got in first at the near post to head in.
Just as England looked to have done enough to draw, France snatched victory in the dying seconds. A corner from Amel Majri was met by another substitute, Wendie Renard, whose header down into the ground bounced up and over Bardsley.
It was a cruel finish for the Lionesses who are back in action against hosts USA on Saturday.
England (3-5-2): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 4 Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), 5 Steph Houghton (capt; Manchester City), 6 Millie Bright (Chelsea); 12 Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), 7 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), 8 Jade Moore (Notts County), 18 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 3 Demi Stokes (Manchester City); 9 Jodie Taylor (Arsenal), 11 Ellen White (Birmingham City).
Substitutes: 23 Rachel Williams (Notts County) for Taylor 54, 22 Nikita Parris (Manchester City) for White 74, 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal) for Daly 74, 10 Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City) for Nobbs 87.
Substitutes not used: 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), 21 Mary Earps (Reading), 14 Casey Stoney (Liverpool), 15 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 16 Gemma Bonner (Liverpool), 17 Fara Williams (Arsenal), 19 Toni Duggan (Manchester City), 20 Karen Carney (Chelsea).
Goals: Nobbs 32
Yellow cards: Bright, Bardsley
Red cards: None
Head coach: Mark Sampson
France 4-4-2: 16 Sarah Bouhaddi; 2 Eve Perisset, 4 Laura Georges, 8 Jessica Houara D’Hommeaux, 19 Griedge Mbock Bathy; 6 Amandine Henry (capt), 11 Claire Lavogez, 17 Gaetane Thiney, 20 Grace Geyoro; 13 Kadidiatou Diani, 18 Marie Laure Delie.
Substitutes: 10 Camille Abily for Lavogez 61, 3 Wendie Renard for Perisset 66, 9 Eugenie Le Sommer for Diani 72, 12 Elodie Thomis for Thiney 77, 22 Amel Majri for Mbock Bathy 83.
Substitutes not used: 1 Laetitia Philippe, 21 Meline Gerard, 5 Aissatou Tounkara, 7 Sandie Toletti, 14 Camille Catala, 15 Elise Bussaglia, 23 Sakina Karchaoui.
Goals: Delie 80, Renard 90+5
Yellow cards: Thiney
Red cards: None
Manager: Oliver Echouafni
Referee: Melissa Borjas