Saturday, July 9, 2011
France to face U.S.-Brazil winner
LEVERKUSEN, Germany -- France edged England 4-3 on penalties in the Women's World Cup quarterfinals when England captain Faye White missed the decisive kick on Saturday.
White's effort -- after Eugenie Le Sommer tied the scores for France -- hit the crossbar to send France through to a semifinal against Brazil or the United States on Wednesday. The game ended 1-1 after extra time.
"It's very beautiful. Life is great. We worked so hard for this," said an emotional France coach Bruno Bini. "There's a certain magic to football."
Elise Bussaglia equalized in the 88th minute following Jill Scott's 59th-minute goal for England before 26,395 fans at Bay Arena.
"Unfortunately, again, England get knocked out on penalties. How boring is that?" said England coach Hope Powell.
Camille Abily, who took the first spot kick for France, had her effort saved by Karen Bardsley. But Bussaglia, Gaetane Thiney and Sonia Bompastor all scored. Le Sommer put all the pressure on White after England's Claire Rafferty drew her shot wide to the right.
"I'm proud (Faye) had the guts and the nerve to try and get England to a semifinal. She's gutted, but that's football," Powell said. "It could have happened to anybody. Unfortunately, the game has to end some way."
Kelly Smith, Karen Carney and Casey Stoney converted England's penalties.
In a game thoroughly dominated by France, Scott fired England into the lead against the run of play after Smith and Rachel Yankey combined to set her free.
Scott cut inside to beat two defenders, looked up to see Celine Deville off her line and unleashed a dipping shot that gave the goalkeeper -- playing in place of the suspended Berangere Sapowicz -- no chance.
Bussaglia equalized when she curled a shot from the edge of the penalty area in off the left post.
England shouldn't have been surprised. Its three most recent matches with France since 2006 have all been draws.
After 30 more minutes of extra time and a fateful penalty shootout, England's bid for history was gone. England was trying to make its first semifinals, while attempting to overcome a poor record against France, which it hasn't beaten in almost 37 years.
"I thought we had a chance with penalties because we've been practicing them and Karen's been saving all of them," Powell said.
"You have to give credit to France. They pressed and pressed and got the equalizer."
England attacked right from the kickoff when Smith rounded Deville only for her goalward shot to be cut out by Laura Georges.
France recovered from its shaky start with Louisa Necib displaying wonderful control in the middle of the field, before Abily's effort landed on the roof of the net.
With fans doing the wave around the stands, Smith earned a corner that caused more concern in the French defense. However, it was but a rare push forward for England.
Thiney's fancy footwork left two defenders standing, before Marie-Laure Delie had a shot blocked on the edge of the penalty area. Thiney's effort was then blocked from a similar position.
England was rushed into conceding possession with France applying pressure in all areas, and resorted to sending long balls forward for Ellen White to chase.
Thiney's thunderous volley brought the best from England 'keeper Karen Bardsley in the 25th.
Necib rifled the side-netting shortly afterward, after creating space for the shot.
Bardsley was relieved to see her attempted clearance whizz over after it rebounded off Delie's face in the 36th, before she deflected Necib's swinging free kick out for a corner.
A level of frustration began to take hold for France, with captain Sandrine Soubeyrand, Abily and Thiney all wasting good opportunities.
With England coach Hope Powell looking increasingly worried in the dugout, her side suddenly put together a few passes before the interval, when Williams' close-range shot was blocked out for a corner.
Rachel Yankey shot straight at Deville as England again made the better start after the break, before Delie's shot flashed by the post at the other end.
Scott headed wide from a good position in the 54th, but made no mistake when she scored four minutes later.
It was desperate defending thereafter from England -- Smith made a goal-saving clearance shortly afterward -- as France pushed forward for the equalizer.
Bardsley's great one-handed save denied substitute Elodie Thomis, before Ellen White made a headed goalline clearance.
The goal came with two minutes remaining.
"We had more chances than the English," said Abily, who was voted player of the game despite her penalty miss.
The Lyon midfielder revealed that she took two penalties at training the day before.
"I missed one and scored one, so I don't think I'll be taking any more!," she said
"We are overjoyed," Bini said. "I hope we will have more than just one more match."