By Ros Satar
- Beat hosts Canada 2-1
- Make history in reaching the semi-finals for the first time
- Next up – reigning champions Japan
England’s Lionesses reached the semi-final stage of a World Cup semi-final for the first time, after they triumphed over the hosts, Canada.
They could not have asked for a better start, as they scored two goals within the first 15 minutes of the game, and within three minutes of each other. Jodie Taylor, who was making her first start nine weeks after having knee surgery, made good on a Lauren Sesselmann error to beat Erin McLeod for her first World Cup goal.
She was ably backed up by Lucy Bronze, who connected with a Fara Williams free-kick to head in the second, to leave the hosts reeling.
England goalie Karen Bardsley slipped up just three minutes before half time, to give Canada some hope as Christine Sinclair found the net. Bardsley was replaced by Siobhan Chamberlain just five minutes into the second half with a badly swollen eye.
England succeeded well against the run of play – Canada had outstripped them in terms of possession but it was the Lionesses who had the run of luck to join the 1966 and 1990 club.
It was a nervy second half as England sought to hang on to their winning margin but Mark Sampson’s side continues striding forwards at this tournament. While Welshman Sampson and his team were celebrating, Englishman John Herdman apologised to the nation for his side’s loss. Once tipped to manage the England side, he thanked the fans for support.
“We’ve given you our best but it just wasn’t good enough. We wanted to go all the way.
“We are absolutely gutted. We made mistakes, they caught us on a set-play and an error. I don’t think anyone hid from the responsibility.
“I want to thank everyone who supported us. I can’t believe it ended like this.”
They won their first knockout stages match when they beat Norway, and this win now makes Sampson the first manager to guide a senior England team (men’s or women’s) to a World Cup since 1990.
He said: “They are history-makers again, the third ever England team to get to a semi-final. We now join the 1966 and the 1990 club, and I’m very proud of the whole group.”
The team now travel to Edmonton and will face Japan. They beat them in the group stages at the last World Cup, before Japan went on to win the World Cup.
Captain Steph Houghton described the atmosphere in the stadium, as interest continues to gather for the Women’s team.
“It was 55,000 people inside the stadium against 23 players and staff,” she said. “We fought for the shirt to the very end. It is a massive thing for English football. The women’s game is changing and we knew this was a history-making game.
“We want to inspire a nation, inspire young girls to go and play football. We hope they were allowed to stay up and watch us!”
They also received praise from England men’s captain Wayne Rooney, who said: “England women doing the country proud. Huge congratulations on reaching the semi-finals.”
It will be another late one for fans as England will take on Japan at midnight, Thursday 2 July.