Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - Page 20 News List

England reach Women’s World Cup quarter-finals


England’s Lucy Bronze, Fara Williams, Jade Moore, Steph Houghton and Laura Bassett, left to right, celebrate after defeating Norway in their Women’s World Cup match at Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa on Monday.

Photo: AP

England’s women’s soccer team finally has a few World Cup moments that deserve remembering.

In 15 stunning minutes, the Three Lionesses overcame a 1-0 deficit, the blistering heat on a sunbaked artificial turf field, and their own disappointing and brief tournament history. England beat Norway 2-1 on Monday, delivering them their first tournament knockout-stage victory.

“The first emotion I’m feeling is a real sense of pride for team,” coach Mark Sampson said. “To show that character and resilience to come back from a goal down in this tournament is an incredible achievement.”

The win began with stellar goalkeeping from Karen Bardsley, who helped England weather Norway’s first-half push and keep the game goalless.

Then, after falling behind from Solveig Gulbrandsen’s goal off a corner in the 54th minute, England’s offense finally found its range.

Steph Houghton leveled the score by heading in Fara Williams’ corner in the 61st minute, and defender Lucy Bronze, from just outside the penalty area, won it in the 76th minute with a powerful shot that glanced in off the hand of goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth.

“We showed an amazing amount of character today,” said Bardsley, who stopped four shots and was voted player of the match. “We went very, very deep to make it happen.”

England now have an opportunity to go even deeper.

After failing to win a knockout match in three previous Women’s World Cup appearances, sixth-ranked England advanced to a quarter-final on Saturday against hosts Canada in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“The individual players are now inked in the football history of England forever, but I reiterate, we want this journey to keep going,” Sampson said.

It was another disappointing World Cup exit for 11th-ranked Norway, who won the 1995 championship under coach Even Pellerud. Norway finished fourth in 2007, and were eliminated in the group stage four years ago.

Not even Pellerud’s return as coach in 2012 could make a difference.

“To lose a game is something you always have to accept in football, but this was a hard way to lose it,” Pellerud said. “It was really disappointing for all of us. It feels not good.”

The difference was Norway’s inability to capitalize on their chances in the first half. They had three shots on target from seven attempts.

Isabell Herlovsen was through on goal in the 11th minute, only to be stopped by a left-foot save from Bardsley.

Bronze misplayed the ball in the 39th minute, and the turnover allowed Ada Hegeberg to have a wide-open shot to the left of the net, only to be stopped by Bardsley.

“Without counting or being very precise, I think we had six or seven fantastic opportunities before England had one,” Pellerud said. “If you don’t capitalize on them, that is going to be a problem.”

Houghton tied the game when she jumped above two defenders and headed the ball in off the far post from close range.

Jill Scott, a 54th-minute substitute, then fed a perfect pass to Bronze, who was alone on the edge of the penalty area. Bronze hit a hard shot that glanced off a hand of Hjelmseth and into the net.

England, who have climbed the rankings in two years under Sampson, remain in contention to earn Europe’s third and final berth in next year’s women’s tournament at the Rio Olympics.

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