28 July 2017
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Euro 2017: England through to quarter final match against France

July 28, 2017
Nikita-Parris

England secured a Euro 2017 quarter-final clash with France on Sunday, as they did just enough to see off Portugal in their final group game last night to preserve their 100 per cent winning start.

But if Mark Sampson was holding auditions for first XI places, then not many of the much-changed that started last night did enough to convince the Lionesses coach that they deserve their shot at the business end of the tournament.

Portugal, the lowest-ranked side in the Netherlands, gave England a scare in the first half, but goals from Toni Duggan and Nikita Parris were enough to ensure England qualified top of Group D with a 2-1 win.

However, Sampson will know they need to step it up against a fellow tournament favourites France in Deventer, as the competition hots up.

Sampson has made a point of reiterating how strong his Lionesses squad is since they arrived in camp two weeks ago, and they had a chance to show that against Portugal with ten changes made from their 2-0 win against Spain on Thursday.

This was a first real opportunity for the likes of veteran duo Fara Williams and Karen Carney to impress, while defender Laura Bassett was handed the captaincy in place of Steph Houghton.

And they made the perfect start as Portuguese keeper Patricia Morais scuffed a clearance straight to Duggan, and the Barcelona-bound striker calmly lofted the ball into an empty net for her second of the tournament.

From there, most would have expected the flood gates to open like they did against Scotland but Portugal had other ideas and sliced through England down the left-hand side, where Diana Silva supplied Carolina Mendes for a tap-in.

That was the first goal England conceded in the tournament and it seemed to stun the Lionesses, as Portugal gained the upper hand and almost scored again through Mendes – but she narrowly missed another dangerous Silva cross.

Even though Duggan’s goal was effectively enough to dampen any real hopes that Portugal could win by the three goals required to knock the Lionesses out, Sampson was growing notably frustrated as Portugal sat back, soaked up England’s pressure and broke menacingly on the counter-attack.

But they don’t have the quality England possess and Sampson’s side ramped it up in the second period, no doubt off the back of a severe half-time rollicking, and took the lead.

Parris was invisible in the first period but she latched onto the end of Isobel Christiansen’s flick, beat two defenders and buried a low shot into the net.

Portugal visibly tired in the second half, and England controlled things with ease to see out victory – and now attention turns to Sunday’s tantalising clash.

Charlie Bennett in Tilburg, Sportsbeat
Sportsister

SSE is an official partner of the England Women’s team and is proud to be the energy behind women’s football, supporting the game from grassroots through to international level. Follow at @YourSSE  

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