A quickfire first half double from Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze was enough to see England into their first ever FIFA Women's World Cup™ semi-final and eliminate hosts Canada with a 2-1 win. Christine Sinclair's effort, also in the opening period, could not spark a comeback for John Herdman's side at a full BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, who fail to match their semi-final performance at USA 2003.
Canada had the first opportunity, crafted by captain Sinclair. The No12 worked the ball well on the Canadian right, nutmegging Laura Bassett and hitting a long crossfield ball to find Melissa Tancredi in space. Tancredi cut in onto her right foot, but her effort flew harmlessly over Karen Bardsley’s crossbar.
The hosts were made to instantly rue that missed chance when they handed England a golden opportunity to take the lead, which Taylor took. Lauren Sesselmann miskicked the ball and lost her footing as the last line of defence, and the England No19 pounced on the error, robbing her of possession and sprinting clear. Taylor sidestepped Allysha Chapman’s challenge and fired an accurate drive past Erin McLeod.
It then got even better for the Lionesses. Fara Williams drilled a free-kick from the English right to Canada’s back post. Bronze, also England’s matchwinner in the Round of 16, rose above Allysha Chapman to thunder a header in off the crossbar. BC Place Stadium was stunned.
The woodwork was rattled once more by an England header later in the opening period, with Katie Chapman rising highest from another set-piece to see her looping effort bounce off the top of the crossbar and away.
It was left to Canada's talisman to drag them back into the game. Ashley Lawrence turned on the edge of the England penalty area and hit a fairly tame left-footed shot at goal which Bardsley spilled into the path of Sinclair. The Canada skipper made no mistake and poked home to reduce the deficit.
Backed by a vociferous crowd Canada pressed forward throughout the second half in search of an equaliser, with England looking dangerous on the counter-attack. One such break resulted in McLeod superbly keeping out a curling Taylor effort. A late snapshot by Sophie Schmidt flew over substitute goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain's crossbar as the hosts pressed, but the leveller did not come for Canada.
It was to be England's evening in Vancouver. They head to Edmonton for a showdown with holders Japan on Wednesday while the hosts will join their compatriots in the stands to savour the remainder of Canada 2015.
Live Your Goals Player of the match: Steph Houghton (England)