England’s first match in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup was against opponents they have failed to beat since 1974. Head Coach Mark Sampson set up his squad to close down the French, which limited England’s attacking options, leaving lone striker Eniola Aluko isolated up front. For much of the game, the lionesses were able to soak up the French attack, but French striker Eugenie Le Sommer managed to fire a shot past goalkeeper Karen Bardsley after Katie Chapman was dispossessed in the box.
It was not expected for England to come away with three points from this fixture against a team ranked third in the world, and despite the loss, they showed defensive strength for much of the match. Arguably, the French were lucky to still have a full squad on the pitch at the end of the match as Steph Houghton was floored with a bang to the face, and Laura Bassett had a lump the size of an egg under her eye after Camille Abily cynically elbowed her.
The lionesses may be feeling battered and bruised after their first game in the Women’s World Cup, but there are positives to be taken from their performance into their match against Mexico on Saturday.