England progressed to the semi-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup after a dominant 3-0 win over Norway in Le Havre.
England made the perfect start, taking the lead after just three minutes when Lucy Bronze made a darting run down the right-hand side and played the ball across to Ellen White who missed the ball completely, only for Jill Scott to capitalise and place the ball past the Norwegian goalkeeper.
England almost doubled their advantage just before the half hour mark after Nikita Parris deftly lifted the ball over the Norwegian defence to White, who struck the far post with a powerful half-volley.
White finally got the goal that made her The Lionesses’ record goalscorer in World Cup history with a simple tap-in after being played through by Parris.
Norway had plenty of the ball without really creating too many chances, but came close early in the second half when Caroline Hansen found a gap between the England centre backs, only for captain Steph Houghton to produce a superb last-ditch tackle and clearance.
The goal of game came in the 57th minute when Bronze added England’s third with a powerful first-time drive from outside the box thanks to Beth Mead’s inch-perfect pass.
With the win effectively sealed, England were sloppy in possession and a mistake from Millie Bright almost resulted in Norway getting a goal back but Houghton once again came to the rescue, this time clearing the ball off the line.
The Lionesses were awarded a penalty with just under 10 minutes remaining when a threatening cross from a set piece resulted in Houghton getting shoved. Just like the Argentina game in the group stage, Parris’ penalty was saved.
England will now play either hosts France or holders USA in Lyon next Tuesday.
Here are the player ratings from tonight’s game:
Karen Bardsley - 7
Made a rare error misjudging a pass-back that almost resulted in a Norway equaliser but made important saves when called upon in the latter stages of the second half.
Lucy Bronze - 9
Made a brilliant run to set up the opening goal of the game, and her pace was too much for the Norway defence to handle for the entire game. Her goal in the second half was deserved, and easily one of the best in the tournament so far.
Steph Houghton (C) - 8
Did well to prevent Norway from getting a goal back early in the second half with a last-ditch tackle and later in the half with a goal-line clearance.
Millie Bright - 6
Was sloppy at times, but her partnership with Houghton continues to be one of the key factors in The Lionesses’ success in the tournament.
Demi Stokes - 8
Tracked the runs of the Norway wingers really well throughout the game, winning the ball on numerous occasions.
Keira Walsh - 7
Controlled the midfield and played a number of inviting passes into the final third.
Jill Scott - 8
Scored the opening goal and made a number of attacking runs causing a lot of pressure on the Norwegian defence.
Fran Kirby - 7
Worked hard at both ends of the pitch, but her end product did let her down at times before getting substituted.
Toni Duggan - 6
Played a few good passes but ultimately had a fairly quiet game, she still doesn’t appear to be back at full fitness after being substituted early in the second half.
Nikita Parris - 7
Her pace, trickery and passing were a handful for the Norwegian defenders especially in the first half. Set up White’s goal but for the second time in the tournament she missed from the penalty spot.
Ellen White - 7
Wasted numerous chances in the first half before finally scoring her fifth goal of the tournament.
Beth Mead - 7
Came off the bench early in the second half and made an almost immediate impact by playing the ball across for Bronze to power home England’s third goal.
Georgia Stanway - 5
Almost scored in second half injury time, but otherwise didn’t do much after replacing Kirby with 15 minutes left.
Rachel Daly - 6
Despite having very little time on the pitch, she did still create some opportunities for Mead and Stanway.