France made it to the Women’s World Cup semi-finals Saturday after winning 4-3 on penalties against England.
AFP - France advanced to their first ever Women's World Cup semi-finals on Saturday with a dramatic 4-3 win on penalties against England.
Player of the match Camille Abily missed France's first penalty but Claire Rafferty and Faye White then failed to net England's last two to send Les Bleus through to a final four showdown with either Brazil or the United States
Despite France dominating for most of the game Jill Scott had put England ahead after 59 minutes before Elise Bussaglia equalised two minutes from time.
"Again England get knocked out on penalties, how boring is that?" said England coach Hope Powell.
"To get to penalties we did well. It was just unfortunate we missed two. It was just tired legs. At the end we were dead on our feet. Unfortunately when it came down to penalties you have to applaud France."
France coach Bruno Bini paid tribute to his side who dominated the 120 minutes of play with 33 shots on goal to just seven for England, who have not beaten the French in 37 years.
"Until three minutes before the final whistle we thought we could lose this match even though it could have been 3-0 for us," he said.
"Our match was going well but we weren't getting our reward. That was unacceptable but in the end we were rewarded. Life is beautiful, we worked so hard for this."
Apart from suspended keeper Berangere Sapowicz, France fielded the same team that crushed Canada 4-0, including five Lyon players who won last season's Champions League final.
Technically superior the French outplayed their rivals before the break but were unable to convert any of their chances to the disappointment of the 26,395 crowd.
England's best early shot on goal came seconds into the game when Kelly Smith beat the off-side trap, rounding goalkeeper Celine Deville, only to have her effort an an open goal blocked.
French midfielder Abily's long range shot after four minutes went flying over the bar, while a powerful 25th-minute Gaetane Thiney effort from outside the box was pushed out by Karen Bardsley in the England goal.
The French pushed forward and three minutes later a Marie-Laure Delie effort went just wide with Louisa Necib's attempt grazing the crossbar moments later.
Bardsley, who pulled off some superb first-half saves, did well five minutes before the break when she rose to hold a dangerous curling Necib corner.
Back after the break the French continued causing all sorts of problems for the English defenders with Montpellier striker Delie twice going just wide with Bardsley holding a Thiney effort.
Scott missed a chance to put England ahead after 55 minutes when she picked up a cross from Rachel Unitt only for her header to go just left of goal.
But four minutes later she made no mistake with the Everton midfielder latching onto a Rachel Yankey cross to rifle in her second goal of the tournament from 20 yards out.
The French piled on the pressure as they went in search of the equaliser with Delie missing a chance after 66 minutes, with another effort from substitute Elodie Thomis held by Bardsley.
But Bussaglia finally got the equaliser as the Paris Saint Germain midfielder's shot hit the post and curled into the net ensuring that the match went into extra-time.
"I felt really bad. But because we won I've already forgotten about it," said Abily of her penalty which was saved by Bardsley.
"We deserved it. We dominated 120 minutes. I think we finished better than England which helped us to have a bit more freshness in the penalties."