For the first time since 1990 an English football team is through to the semi finals of a World Cup. Lois Fidler’s U17 side beat Japan on penalties top secure their spot.
It was a nail biting game with England scoring in injury time to force the game to penalties. Isobel Christiansen’s shot from 40 yards out saved the English in dramatic fashion and is sure to be up there for goal of the tournament.
Japan started the tie as overwhelming favourites having scored 17 goals in three group games and the only team in the tournament with a 100% record. And it only took them eight minutes to open the scoring with a goal from Chinatsu Kira.
Lucy Staniforth equalized just before half time with a terrific, low right-foot shot from 20 yards.
England came out strong after the break but it was Japan who took the lead thanks to Mana Iwabuchi. And it looked as though the dream was over for England until Christiansen’s breathtaking long range shot.
No goals were scored in extra time so penalties were the decider. Keeper Lauren Davey saved Natsumi Kameoka’s shot while Gemma Bonner fired home a superb winning kick.
England take on North Korea on Wednesday who beat Denmark 4-0 this Thursday, while USA play Germany in the other Semi-Final.
“The kids are absolutely elated,” coach Fidler told TheFA.com. “They worked so hard with 90 minutes of normal time, extra-time and penalties as well – it takes a lot out of you.
“I thought we could do it, I think to most other people it may be unexpected but those that saw the game have said we deserved it. We stuck in there and got the victory so we are delighted.
“Belief is a crucial word. We have spent a lot of time working with these players and they have worked hard together as well to build the moral and the unity of the squad. The idea that if everyone sticks together then anything is possible has really been demonstrated today.”
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
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