England progress to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup for the second successive time as they beat Norway 3-0. Goals from Jill Scott, Ellen White and Lucy Bronze were enough as the Lionesses took the win in Le Havre.
The first half was fantastic for England and it took them no time at all to race into the lead. Less than three minutes in, Lucy Bronze powered down the right wing, pushed to the byline and pulled the ball back towards Ellen White. England’s star striker swung at the ball and totally missed it, but Jill Scott was there to spare her blushes and finish the move off. At just over two minutes, Scott’s goal was the quickest goal of the tournament so far.
Phil Neville’s side had to wait a while for their second goal but it came at the perfect time – just before half-time. Lucy Bronze was involved once more as she played a lovely pass into Nikita Parris, the Lyon winger then picked out Ellen White in the six yard area – she swept the ball into an empty net as England doubled their lead.
In the second half, England weren’t quite as strong but still looked dangerous every time they went forward. There were a few misplaced passes at the back, particularly from Millie Bright – the Chelsea centre-back was bailed out by her skipper Steph Houghton numerous times in that second period. Houghton was fantastic all game long, she put in numerous last ditch tackles and showed some all round brilliant defending – exactly what you want from your skipper. Injury? Pshhhht… what injury?
The third goal, which wrapped the game up for England, came from the other standout performer on the pitch in Lucy Bronze. Phil Neville reiterated his belief that she is the best player in the world after the game and her goal did nothing to make you disagree with statement. Beth Mead stood over a free-kick on the right wing, pulled it back to Bronze at the edge of the box and the Lyon full-back smashed her effort into the roof of the net. Fantastic goal and progression all wrapped up.
England had a chance to make it four late on when Steph Houghton was hauled down in the area. For the third time in the tournament, Nikita Parris stepped up to take it. Unfortunately, Ingrid Hjelmseth was equal to it and she beat the shot away, keeping the score at 3-0 – that was Parris’ second missed penalty of the tournament. Will she be taken off penalty duties in the next round? She possibly should be.
England will face one of either France or USA in the semi-final. It’s a daunting prospect but if England can play like they did tonight, they’ll have every chance of picking up another win.