England claim third place on penalties

England needed penalties to defeat hosts France in Vannes on Friday and claim their best-ever finish at a FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, as they won the play-off for third place at France 2018 after a 1-1 draw at the end of the 90 minutes.

Chances were traded at both ends during a highly-competitive first half at the Stade de la Rabine, with Les Bleuettes creating two of the best opportunities to break the deadlock. Emelyne Laurent was unable to steer a fine cross from Sandy Baltimore goalwards on 16 minutes, while Annahita Zamanian forced a big save from England goalkeeper Sandy MacIver after breaking in on goal just before the break.

Mo Marley’s side also served notice of their attacking threat in the opening 45 minutes, with Georgia Stanway forcing a couple of saves from France goalkeeper Justine Lerond, while Laura Hemp was unable to properly connect with an Alessia Russo cross in front of goal.

The second half brought goals, with England taking the lead right after the restart through a fine turn and finish from the edge of the France box by Stanway. It was the Manchester City player’s sixth goal of France 2018.

That prompted France coach Gilles Eyquem to bring on striker Amelie Delabre, and her presence made a difference midway through the second half, as she earned the hosts a penalty after being fouled in the England box by Megan Finnigan. Laurent stepped up to convert the spot-kick and draw France back on level terms.

Both teams kept pressing for a second goal, with the Young Lionesses nearly breaking through via the head of Russo on 88 minutes, but Lerond was able to deny her at the far post.

With the scores deadlocked at fulltime, penalties were needed to decide third, with England triumphing in the shoot-out 4-2. Late substitute Georgia Allen converted the winning spot-kick to cap a fine campaign in Brittany for Mo Marley’s side.

“Dare To Shine” Player of the Match: Georgia Stanway (ENG)