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England gain revenge in Saint-Etienne

France 1 England 2

Goals from Georgia Stanway and Alessia Russo helped England to a vital 2-1 victory over France in Saint-Étienne which keeps their automatic qualifying hopes for the UEFA Euro 2025 Finals alive.

After falling to a 2-1 defeat to the same opponents in Newcastle on Friday, the Lionesses were dominant from the beginning with Stanway and Russo both netting in the first half but it needed a brilliant save late on from Hannah Hampton to secure the result against the group leaders.

The result was also an important moment in history, marking France’s first defeat in 59 major championship qualifying games and England’s first victory away to Les Bleues in 51 years.

Sarina Wiegman made only the enforced change of Hannah Hampton for Mary Earps in central France, but England looked a side transformed from last week's encounter at St. James' Park. Ella Toone had the game’s first big chance on six minutes, but her delayed shot was easily saved by Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.

France responded immediately as Diani was well found by Sakina Karchaoui, who was playing out of position in the front three, but Diani hit the ball wide under pressure from skipper Leah Williamson.

The Lionesses’ fast pace in attack heaped pressure on the France defence with Beth Mead finding an on-rushing Russo who could only put her attempt over. Mead then stung the hands of Peyraud-Magnin having been found by a wonderful ball from Toone but France were only safe for a matter of seconds.

Russo and Lauren Hemp held off two challenges from the home side before the latter found Stanway in space and she fired the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the box in the 21st minute.

In a practice run for the second goal, Lucy Bronze hit a volley across the box and into the path of Russo’s whose header was well saved by the France ‘keeper. The striker did not need asking twice as Russo netted in the 34th minute, when her low header from a peach of a ball from Hemp gave the Lionesses a two-goal cushion.

France looked for a response either side of the break, Amandine Henry sent her shot well wide before Wendie Renard rose highest to head a ball to Marie-Antoinette Katoto but she directed the ball the wrong side of the far post.

Hampton was much busier in the second half, coming out to shut down an attack before watching a long range Selma Bacha attempt go just wide. Meanwhile, England showed they could still be dangerous when Toone poached the ball from Maelle Lakrar and attempted to catch out Peyraud-Magnin but the experienced keeper denied the midfielder on her 50th cap.

France were then awarded a penalty with Williamson judged to have fouled Grace Geyoro which Diani fired home on her 100th appearance to set up a nervy final 18 minutes.

The game reached a frantic point as the seconds ticked away but Hampton was the calmest player on the pitch to brilliantly tip Katoto’s close range attempt behind for a corner as England held on for a crucial win.

France: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Élisa de Almeida, Selma Bacha (sub Sandy Baltimore 90mins), Amandine Henry (sub Sandie Toletti 45mins), Maelle Lakrar (sub Eve Perisset 73mins), Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani, Grace Geyoro, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Kenza Dali (sub Vicki Becho 90mins), Sakina Karchaoui (sub Delphine Cascarino 45mins). Subs not used: Solene Durand, Estelle Cascarino Léa Le Garrec, Inès Benyahia, Julie Dufour, Thiniba Samoura, Constance Picaud.  

England: Hannah Hampton, Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, Keira Walsh, Millie Bright, Leah Williamson, Beth Mead (sub Chloe Kelly 75mins), Georgia Stanway, Alessia Russo, Ella Toone (sub Fran Kirby 90mins), Lauren Hemp. Subs not used: Alex Greenwood, Khiara Keating, Jessica Naz, Aggie Beever-Jones, Grace Clinton, Maya Le Tissier, Jess Park, Lucy Thomas, Esme Morgan, Millie Turner.


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