France advanced to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup tonight, when they beat England 4-3 on penalties, after the score was 1-1 after 90 minutes and 1-1 after extra time.
Think of the way Arsenal play and overwhelm the opposition, but never put the ball in the net, and you get a good idea how dominant France were in this game.
In the first half, France out-shot England by 9 shots to one, and it got even worse in the second half, as France continually moved forward and were the much more skillful side.
But then in the 59th minute England surprisingly went ahead, when Jill Scott fired the ball home from 30 yards in a rare England attack, and England were ahead.
England were hanging on with everything they had, with some stout defending in central defense and in goal, but then the England coaches seemed to make a huge error in using all their subs, the last one coming on after 87 minutes.
That was even though Kelly Smith was clearly seen to be hobbling around – what were they thinking?
So if this game went to extra time England would be in trouble with essentially only 10 fit women.
And of course that’s exactly what happened as France equalized in the 88th minute. It’s called Murphy’s law – if something can go wrong, it will – and at the worst possible time.
The game went to extra time and how France didn’t score, we have no idea, and the England players were falling around like ninepins and continually booting the ball clear and handing possession straight back to the French side – it was desperate stuff indeed from England.
The game finished 1-1 after 120 minutes, and it went to penalties.
Goalkeeper Bardsley, who was born in the USA, was England’s best player and kept her side in this game, with two excellent saves and some very decent goalkeeping in those first 90 minutes of the game.
And then when she saved the first penalty in excellent style for England, things looked up, and after round 3 of penalties, England were still 3-2 up.
But then, almost to show that the England women are as bad as the men are in penalty shoot-outs, England managed to miss their last two penalties, when Rafferty and England captain Faye White both missed, and didn’t even get the ball in the frame and so didn’t even test the 3rd choice French goalkeeper.
France scored with their final two penalties with ease, and went out winners 4-3 on penalties.
Have England – men or woman – ever won a penalty shoot-out – when the chips are down?
England handed France the victory, and the French will now play either Brazil or the United States in the semi-final.
But the only mystery in this game was how England managed to take this game to penalties, because they were simply out-played by France.
It was guts and glory from the English woman, but like the men, they eventually came up short in the penalty shoot-out.
But to be fair, the England woman did win their group, and got to the quarter finals, and put in a much better overall performance than the men did last summer in South Africa – when most of them seemed to be scared stiff and it all seemed too much for most of them.