England beat Canada to reach first Women's World Cup semi

Sport360 staff 07:45 28/06/2015
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  • Lucy Bronze (c) wheels away in celebration.

    First-half goals from Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze propelled England into their first ever World Cup semi-final after they held on to defeat tournament hosts Canada 2-1 in Vancouver.

    Fresh from their first ever knockout win in this competition earlier this week against Norway, England, who have been beaten three times at the quarter-final stage, stunned John Herdman’s side with two goals in three minutes.

    Christine Sinclair pulled one back on the stroke of half-time following a rare mistake from goalkeeper Karen Bardsley but England defended resolutely to restrict Canada’s chances in the second half.

    The win, their fourth successive 2-1 victory, sets up a last four meeting with defending champions Japan, who defeated Australia 1-0 earlier in the day, in Edmonton.

    It was a memorable performance from England, who had to weather a frenetic start from their opponents at a packed out stadium.

    Buoyed by a boisterous atmosphere inside the BC Place, the hosts came storming out of the traps, with Melissa Tancredi having the first sight at goal when she wastefully fired over after cutting inside following a wonderful counter-attack.

    It proved to be a costly miss as England took an 11th-minute lead very much against the run of play.

    Last defender Lauren Sesselmann’s slipped at the crucial moment, allowing Taylor through and the England forward took the ball to the edge of the area before firing across Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod with aplomb. 

    They doubled their lead three minutes later, silencing the stunned crowd in the process, when Bronze, England’s matchwinner against Norway, headed in off the bar from Fara Williams’ free-kick to the back post, prompting a team huddle from a shell-shocked Canada.

    Tancredi headed over from Sophie Schmidt’s free-kick as Canada threatened to get back into the contest but they continued to be troubled by set-pieces as Katie Chapman’s looping header struck the bar.

    Mark Sampson’s team appeared resolute in defence although they gifted their opponents a way back into the game three minutes before half-time when goalkeeper Bardsley spilled Ashley Lawrence’s cross to the feet of Sinclair, who gleefully fired into an empty net.

    Karen Carney, who scored in group games against Mexico and Colombia, saw a dipping strike from 25 yards go over after half-time before an eye injury to Bardsley forced England into a 52nd-minute substitution, Siobhan Chamberlain making her first appearance of the tournament.

    It did not seem to faze England initially and they came close to restoring their two-goal advantage as Taylor’s curling strike from the left side of the penalty area produced a fine one-handed save from McLeod.

    At the other end, Steph Houghton’s hesitation on the edge of the area allowed Tancredi to steal in but England quickly got back in numbers to snuff out the danger.

    Houghton’s placed free-kick on the edge of the area went straight into the hands of McLeod, but England were finding themselves being increasingly penned back into their own half as the match entered its closing stages.

    Schmidt volleyed over from a decent position but that was the closest they came to finding a leveller as England held on to secure a famous win and gain a measure of revenge over Canada, who defeated a Great Britain team containing many current England players in the quarter-finals at the London Olympics three years ago.