France reaches Women’s WCup semis after shootout

France beat England 4-3 on penalties in the Women’s World Cup

quarterfinals when England captain Faye White missed the decisive

kick on Saturday.

White’s effort – after Eugenie Le Sommer tied the scores for

France – hit the crossbar to send France through to its first-ever

semifinal against Brazil or the United States next Wednesday.

”It’s very beautiful. Life is great. We worked so hard for

this,” said an emotional France coach Bruno Bini. ”There’s a

certain magic to football.”

The game ended 1-1 after normal time and extra time.

Elise Bussaglia equalized in the 88th minute following Jill

Scott’s 59th-minute goal for England before 26,395 fans at Bay

Arena.

”Unfortunately, again, England get knocked out on penalties.

How boring is that?” said England coach Hope Powell.

Camille Abily, who took the first spot kick for France, saw her

effort saved by Karen Bardsley, but Bussaglia, Gaetane Thiney and

Sonia Bompastor all scored. Le Sommer put all the pressure on White

after England’s Claire Rafferty drew her shot wide to the

right.

”I’m proud (Faye) had the guts and the nerve to try and get

England to a semifinal. She’s gutted, but that’s football,” said

Powell. ”It could have happened to anybody. Unfortunately, the

game has to end some way.”

Kelly Smith, Karen Carney and Casey Stoney converted England’s

penalties.

In a game thoroughly dominated by France, Scott fired England

into the lead against the run of play after Smith and Rachel Yankey

combined to set her free.

Scott cut inside to beat two defenders, looked up to see Celine

Deville off her line and unleashed a dipping shot that gave the

goalkeeper – playing in place of the suspended Berangere Sapowicz –

no chance.

Bussaglia equalized and broke English hearts a first time when

she curled a shot from the edge of the penalty area in off the left

post.

England shouldn’t have been surprised. Its three most recent

matches with France since 2006 have all been draws.

After 30 more minutes of extra time and a fateful penalty

shootout, England’s own bid for history was gone. England was

trying to make its first semifinals, while attempting to overcome a

poor record against France, which it hasn’t beaten in almost 37

years.

”I thought we had a chance with penalties because we’ve been

practising them and Karen’s been saving all of them,” Powell

said.

”You have to give credit to France. They pressed and pressed

and got the equalizer.”

England attacked right from the kickoff when Smith rounded

Deville only for her goalward shot to be cut out by Laura

Georges.

France recovered from its shaky start with Louisa Necib

displaying wonderful control in the middle of the pitch, before

Abily’s effort landed on the roof of the net.

With fans sending Mexican waves around the stands, Smith earned

a corner that caused more panic in the French defense.

It was but a rare push forward for England, however.

Thiney’s fancy footwork left two defenders standing, before

Marie-Laure Delie had a shot blocked on the edge of the penalty

area. Thiney’s effort was then blocked from a similar position.

England was rushed into conceding possession with France

applying pressure in all areas, and resorted to sending long balls

forward for Ellen White to chase.

Thiney’s thunderous volley brought the best from England ‘keeper

Karen Bardsley in the 25th.

Necib rifled the side-netting shortly afterward, after creating

space for the shot.

Bardsley was relieved to see her attempted clearance whizz over

after it rebounded off Delie’s face in the 36th, before she

deflected Necib’s swinging free kick out for a corner.

A level of frustration began to take hold for France, with

captain Sandrine Soubeyrand, Abily and Thiney all wasting good

opportunities.

”I thought I was at the wrong movie, to have a match with so

many chances but we couldn’t score. … It could have been 3-0. We

didn’t get our reward until the very end,” Bini said.

With Powell looking increasingly worried in the dugout, her side

suddenly put together a few passes before the interval, when

Williams’ close-range shot was blocked out for a corner.

Rachel Yankey shot straight at Deville as England again made the

better start after the break, before Delie’s shot flashed by the

post at the other end.

Scott headed wide from a good position in the 54th, but made no

mistake when she scored four minutes later.

It was desperate defending thereafter from England – Smith made

a goal-saving clearance shortly afterward – as France pushed

forward for the equalizer.

Bardsley’s great one-handed save denied substitute Elodie

Thomis, before Ellen White made a headed goalline clearance.

When the goal came, with two minutes remaining, it was

thoroughly deserved.

”We had more chances than the English,” said Abily, who was

voted player of the game despite her penalty miss.

The midfielder revealed she took two penalties at training the

day before.

”I missed one and scored one, so I don’t think I’ll be taking

any more!”

”We are overjoyed,” Bini said. ”I hope we will have more than

just one more match.”

Lineups:

England: Karen Bardsley, Rachel Unitt (Claire Rafferty, 81),

Casey Stoney, Faye White, Alex Scott (Stephanie Houghton, 81), Fara

Williams, Jill Scott, Rachel Yankey (Anita Asante, 84), Kelly

Smith, Karen Carney, Ellen White.

France: Celine Deville, Sonia Bompastor, Sabrina Viguier, Laura

Georges, Laure Lepailleur, Elise Bussaglia, Sandrine Soubeyrand

(Elodie Thomis, 67), Gaetane Thiney, Louisa Necib (Sandrine

Bretigny, 79 (Eugenie Le Sommer, 106), Camille Abily, Marie-Laure

Delie.

Referee: Jenny Palmqvist, Sweden.