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England 0 France 1 (Le Sommer 28)
England's opening World Cup match ended in defeat when a powerful strike by French striker Eugenie Le Sommer settled matters in her side's favour.
The goal was a rare highlight in a gruelling match of few chances and, whilst the England team worked hard throughout the match, they rarely looked like getting back on level terms and France were comfortable winners despite the one-goal scoreline.
England went into the match with a defensive looking formation with Lucy Bronze playing on the left of midfield and Fara Williams in a deep midfield position, whilst Eniola Aluko ploughed a lone furrow up front.
The game started in poor weather conditions at Moncton with a strong wind blowing and rain making things difficult for the two sides. England had the wind at their backs and forced a couple of early corners without making an impression against the French defence.
The first threatening effort on goal at either end came from a Louisa Necib free kick which Karen Bardsley pushed away at her near post. Moments later, a throw in was headed as far as Eugenie Le Sommer whose shot was deflected wide.
Bardsley was forced to make a save at her near post from a low Gaetene Thiney strike but shortly afterwards, France took the lead. The goal came from a mistake of England's doing, Katie Chapman being dispossessed by Thiney and Le Sommer fired a powerful strike which beat Bardsley at her near post.
A corner almost led to a second goal, Laura Georges beating Bardsley to the ball but she was unable to direct her header on target. Thiney returned the ball to Necib who cut inside and sent in a shot which hit the side netting.
At the other end, England produced their first attempt on goal but Chapman was off balance and her effort from the edge of the area was off target. Back came France and England were fortunate not to concede a penalty when Jessica Houara appeared to be brought down by Claire Rafferty after crossing the ball.
Another slip almost let in France at the start of the second half, Thiney setting up Le Sommer who produced another powerful shot which this time flew straight at Bardsley. The England keeper also had to be quick off her line to clear from Thomis as she tried to chase down a header from Thiney.
Le Sommer hooked a shot over the bar following good approach play from Houara whilst at the other end, England produced their first shot on target from an Eniola Aluko corner but Jill Scott's shot was straight at Sarah Bouhaddi.
England brought on Toni Duggan and Fran Kirby in order to give themselves more attacking options but did have a fortunate escape when, after a Necib shot had been partially blocked, the ball fell for Abily whose goalbound shot hit a prostrate Houghton in front of goal and the danger was cleared. There were however suspicions of a raised elbow as Abily had originally challenged Laura Bassett but no action was taken. The England defender sported a lump under her eye following the challenge and Abily looked to have had a lucky escape.
Elise Bussaglia was just off target with a shot from outside the area but this was a rare attempt as France ran the clock down, content with their one-goal lead, whilst England struggled to retain possession when going forward.
A glimpse of goal did come in the dying minutes when the ball broke for Aluko around 20 yards out but her first time effort sailed over the bar. Kirby almost stole in during injury time but France saw the game out with no more problems.
England: Karen Bardsley, Alex Scott (sub Fran Kirby 68mins), Claire Rafferty, Fara Williams, Steph Houghton, Laura Bassett, Eniola Aluko, Jill Scott, Ellen White (sub Toni Duggan 59mins), Katie Chapman (sub Jade Moore 75mins), Lucy Bronze.
France: Sarah Bouhaddi, Jessica Houara, Laure Boulleau, Laura Georges, Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, Elodie Thomis (sub Kenza Dali 70mins), Louisa Necib (sub Claire Lavogez 87mins), Eugenie Le Sommer (sub Elise Bussaglia 80mins), Camille Abily, Gaetene Thiney.
Player of the match: Eugenie Le Sommer.
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