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England 1 (Taylor 59) France 0
For the first time since 1974, England experience the feeling of victory over France after a goal just before the hour by in-form striker Jodie Taylor took them through to the semi finals and a meeting with hosts the Netherlands.
England had reverted to their original line up from the opening two games for what was to be their toughest test of the tournament so far, despite the French having been unimpressive in their group.
The game started at a frenetic pace but without any problems at either end inside the opening ten minutes until Marie-Laure Delie got behind the England defence from a long ball but dragged her shot well wide with only Karen Bardsley to beat.
England began to get more into the game and soon produced their best chance so far, a free kick by Jordan Nobbs was met at the far post by Millie Bright but the defender was unable to direct her header on target.
Both teams snapped into tackles as they sought to wrest control of the game and just after the half hour, Jill Scott was to receive a yellow card which would rule her out of the semi final. However in truth, the midfielder was very fortunate to stay on the pitch for a late and dangerous lunge on Amandine Henry which could easily have seen her red carded.
The first half ended with honours even with only one presentable chance at either end and everything still to play for.
The first chance of the second half went the way of France, Eugenie Le Sommer heading just wide after beating Lucy Bronze to a cross from the right from Kadidiatou Diani, who had looked her side's liveliest player up till this point.
Despite much endeavour from both sides, the match had not produced a shot on target at either end but on 59 minutes, the first one proved to be decisive. Bronze's through ball was chased down by Taylor, who burst into the area before her shot beat Sarah Bouhaddi to give her side the lead. Bouhaddi should really have done better but England were not bothered in the slightest and the Arsenal striker had her fifth goal of the tournament - just one short of Inka Grings' record.
France tried to hit back quickly and a corner led to a scramble and rare scenes of panic in the England rearguard as two completely miscued clearances led to Delie having a great chance to score but Bardsley came to the rescue with a smart save.
However the moment did not come without cost; Bardsley had been injured in the scramble leading up to the saves and although she initially continued, she was looking in visible pain.
France continued to press and substitute Elodie Thomis made a fine run into the area and cut the ball back from the line to Henry but Jade Moore made sure of preserving her side's lead with a superb block to deny the midfielder.
It had become increasingly obvious that Bardsley was not fit to continue and - just as in the World Cup quarter finals two years ago - Siobhan Chamberlain was brought on to replace the stricken keeper. Chamberlain's first touch was a shaky one as she fumbled a cross straight to Thomis who hit the side netting, but England began to regain their composure once again as they rode out the French storm.
Claire Lavogez drove a free kick narrowly over the bar and England had to survive another scramble in which Bronze and Moore both made blocks before they could get the ball away.
There was one more scare late on when Clarisse Le Bihan headed straight at Chamberlain but England successfully negotiated six minutes of injury time to take themselves within one stage of a third appearance in the Final.
Karen Bardsley (sub Siobhan Chamberlain 75mins), Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Millie Bright, Steph Houghton, Jade Moore, Jordan Nobbs, Jill Scott, Jodie Taylor, Fran Kirby, Ellen White.
Sarah Bouhaddi, Jessica Houara-D'Hommeaux, Sakina Karchaoui, Laura Georges, Griedge M'Bock-Bathy, Amandine Henry, Kadidiatou Diani (sub Elodie Thomis 65mins), Grace Geyoro, Eugenie Le Sommer, Camille Abily (sub Claire Lavogez 78mins), Marie-Laure Delie (sub Clarisse Le Bihan 90mins).
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Jade Moore battles for the ball with Camille Abily
(middle) Lucy Bronze goes in where it hurts against Kadidiatou Diani
(bottom) Jodie Taylor scores England's winning goal
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