SPORTS

France Women 1 – 2 England Women


England boosted their hopes of automatic qualification for Euro 2025 with a 2-1 victory over France in Saint-Etienne.

Sarina Wiegman’s side dropped out of the automatic qualification spots in their group after France came from behind to beat the Lionesses 2-1 at St James’ Park on Friday. Sweden, who started the evening second in the group behind France, piled the pressure onto England with a 1-0 victory over Republic of Ireland, but the Euro 2022 holders responded in fine style.

In a near-perfect first-half performance from England, Georgia Stanway’s long-range piledriver gave the visitors the lead in the 21st minute before Alessia Russo’s header doubled the advantage before half-time.

France failed to produce a shot on target in the first half, but they were much more threatening after the break. They were eventually handed a lifeline when Ella Toone lost possession in the middle of the pitch before Leah Williamson clipped Grace Geyoro in the penalty area.

Kadidiatou Diani made no mistake from the spot to set up a big finish at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, and England needed a big save from Hannah Hampton, deputising for the injured Mary Earps, to deny Marie-Antoinette Katoto in the closing stages to seal what could prove to be a huge victory for the Lionesses.

England end France’s impressive home run

England inflicted a first home defeat on France in 21 games.

The result means England, who secured a first win in France in 51 years, are now in control of their own destiny in terms of automatic qualification. The Lionesses stay third in the group on goal difference but sit level on points with Sweden, who they still have to play, while they are now just two points behind group leaders France with two games of the campaign remaining.

Euro 2025 group

How Group A3 stands…

Despite the defeat, France stay top on nine points from four games, with Sweden second on goal difference but tied with England on seven points.

Republic of Ireland stay bottom after a slender defeat to Sweden.

England know they will return to the top two if they beat Republic of Ireland in their next game with France playing Sweden on the same day.

The top two in the group go through automatically to next year’s championship in Switzerland.

How England avenged Friday’s defeat to France…

Georgia Stanway celebrates her opener for England against France.
Image:
Georgia Stanway celebrates her opener for England against France.

England looked like a side lacking confidence in the early stages with a few passes going astray and some heavy touches gifting possession to a France side looking dangerous on the counter-attack.

Ella Toone’s weak shot was easily saved by Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, while at the other end, Sakina Karchaoui’s low cross was diverted just wide by Kadidiatou Diani before the Lionesses really started to click into gear.

England moved the ball quickly to Beth Mead, who crossed to the near post. Russo arrived with a perfectly-timed run but could only side-foot wide. Mead then had a chance of her own but Peyraud-Magnin made a smart block at her near post to deny the Arsenal forward.

The momentum was fully with the visitors and they made their dominance count in the 21st minute. Hemp used her strength to keep hold of the ball before teeing up Stanway, who unleashed a powerful first-time shot into the bottom left corner.

Russo was then presented with a superb chance to double the lead by Lucy Bronze, who volleyed the ball back across goal. The Arsenal striker latched onto the cross at the far post, heading the ball back across goal, but Peyraud-Magnin’s outstretched boot kept the lead at one.

Russo wasn’t to be denied for long, however. Another cross in from the right, this time from Hemp, picked out the Arsenal striker, who guided a header into the roof of the net to send England in at the break with a two-goal advantage.

Alessia Russo heads in England's second against France.
Image:
Alessia Russo heads in England’s second against France.

The hosts were looking for a response and made a double change at the break, bringing on Sandie Toletti and Delphine Cascarino for Amandine Henry and Sakina Karchaoui.

And they were gifted a passage back into the game with 18 minutes remaining. Toone lost possession deep inside her own half, immediately putting the visitors under pressure. Geyoro then drew a foul from Williamson in the box before Diani converted past Hampton to hand France a lifeline.

The momentum was with France as England looked to hold on for victory, and the hosts created one final opportunity but Hampton produced a stunning save to deny Katoto from close range to get England over the finish line.

England team news

Hannah Hampton replaced the injured Mary Earps in goal with England otherwise unchanged from their defeat to France on Friday.

Earps came off during the first half with a minor hip injury and withdrew from the squad on Sunday.

Wiegman: We are in a better position now

England boss Sarina Wiegman:

“A team effort. You know the second half is going to be different and they are going to push, but we worked so hard to stay together and keep the win.

“You know they are going to press. They were really chasing us. We have to make better decisions, be a bit calmer. We played into their hands a bit. We know when they win the ball there they have players that are so quick. We want to take those moments out of course.

“Of course it gives a boost. We want to win and we are in a better position now. The group is totally open. We said from the beginning this is a really tough group with top level teams. It helps when you win, but most of all we did better than Friday.”

‘England flawless in first half’

Sky Sports’ Karen Carney on ITV:

“The first half was the best I’ve seen England play for a long time. It was flawless.

“Second half was a bit different, but they got the result and that was the most important thing.

“England play better when they are under pressure but that shows they are a big team with big players. Sometimes they just need that bit of a rocket, but we are a top team.

“The only team that really beats us are ourselves. When we apply ourselves we are unstoppable. But can we keep that consistency up? Can we keep showing the hunger?

“France are preparing for a home Olympics. It’s not easy for an England team to go away to France and under pressure, get two goals and a result.

“It was a brilliant performance from England.”

Russo: We got our standards back

England goalscorer Alessia Russo:

“I think we got our standard’s back to where we wanted them.

“There are still parts we will work on for sure. We know the level is higher than ever and to even qualify for the Euros is going to be harder than ever.”

“We know our standards have to be higher. We probably let them slip a bit recently. We know the talent we have, we know the potential we have and we saw a lot more flashes of it tonight.”

Stanway: Massive step in right direction

England goalscorer Georgia Stanway:

“We were on the front foot from the beginning. We knew the other day wasn’t bad but there was a few things we had to tweak. We did that today. We battled for 95 minutes, we made sure we weren’t leaving this stadium without a good result. We’re not satisfied with how this week has been but today is a massive step in the right direction for us.

“It’s absolutely massive. We knew how important it was to get the three points. That’s a really big win for us today.”

What’s next?

The Lionesses return to action next month with their final two Euro 2025 qualifying matches. Sarina Wiegman’s side host the Republic of Ireland at Carrow Road on July 12 and then end their campaign with an away trip against Sweden on July 16.

What are the other Euro 2025 qualifying dates?

July 12: England vs Republic of Ireland, Norwich, kick-off 8pm

July 16: Sweden vs England, location TBC, kick-off 6pm

Play-off draw: July 19

Play-off round one (two legs): October 23-29

Play-off round two (two legs): November 27-December 3

Euro 2025 finals draw: December 16

Euro 2025 finals: July 2-27 2025 – Switzerland



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