England awaits either USWNT or France in semifinals after Lionesses beat Norway
England scored the fastest goal of this year’s Women’s World Cup as it beat Norway 3-0 to progress into the last four of the tournament.
In the process, the Lionesses became the first England side to reach three consecutive semifinals at major tournaments, progressing to the last four at the Women’s World Cup in 2015 and the European Championship in 2017.
Now, to reach the final in Lyon, Phil Neville’s side must beat one of the tournament’s heavyweights. They will face the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between the USWNT and France.
“We’re not bothered who we play. We want to play both of them,” said the England manager after the game.
“We’re going to go to Lyon, the atmosphere and the occasion will be incredible. My players have proven tonight, the bigger the occasion, they better they are.”
White on fire
On a warm evening in La Havre and with former men’s captain David Beckham watching on from the stands, it took England just two minutes and six seconds to race into the lead against Norway.
Jill Scott got the rout started by smartly sweeping home an inviting cross after striker Ellen White fortuitously mistimed her effort.
White, who has been in wonderful form in France, then doubled England’s lead before the break. The striker now has five goals at this year’s tournament and is joint top-scorer alongside USWNT’s Alex Morgan and Australia’s Sam Kerr.
World No. 12 Norway is ranked nine places lower than Thursday’s opponents, and spent much of the match chasing an England side brimming with confidence.
Such form was typified by right-back Lucy Bronze, who drilled home a golden second-half effort to score her team’s third.
“I’ve been dreaming of playing in Lyon and getting to that semifinal again,” said Player of the Match Bronze. “I think all that pressure and passion came out in that strike.”
“US or France, they’re going to be a top team. We’re going to have to raise our game another level.”
‘Best player in the world’
Bronze’s effort earned high praise from her manager after the match.
“I think what you’ve seen tonight is that Lucy Bronze is the best player in the world. There’s no player like her. I’m very lucky (to coach her). I played full-back, but never to the level that she does,” the former Manchester United player told BBC Sport.
The score could have been worse for the 1995 World Cup champions if goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth hadn’t saved Nikita Parris’ penalty in the closing stages.
In truth, Norway looked tired but head coach Martin Sjogren was proud of his team’s attitude after the game had finished.
“We tried between the halves to ignite the fire and we knew that if we scored one goal it would be a match again,” he said.
“We couldn’t and when it became 3-0, it became too hard. But I would like to state that we still saw our players fight ’til the end even though it looked hopeless.”