Manchester City Women’s Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze helped England’s Lionesses overcome a 1-0 deficit against former champions Norway to set up a World Cup quarter-final with hosts Canada on Saturday.
Leading by example Houghton rose bravely to head the ball into the opposite side of the goal which brought England back into the game.
Shortly after, with brilliant build up play involving substitute Jill Scott, Lucy Bronze struck the ball beautifully from the outside the penalty box which rocketed past Norway’s Ingrid Hjelmseth.
It was England’s women’s first World Cup knockout stage win which put them into the last eight for the fourth straight time in the 24-year-old tournament and the team’s spirit was clear to see in Bronze.
“Scoring the goal was a bit of history, but it was a team effort, I’m ecstatic that we won,” said the defender.
“I don’t even remember scoring! It was just one of them where you’d normally pass but people say you hit them in training so do it in the game, so I did!”
After a cautious start by both sides, Norway had the first of the main chances after a crisp through ball seemed to go past Houghton forcing Bardsley to come out and force a save against Ada Hegerberg.
The Lionesses seemed to have forgotten their triumphant start against Colombia almost a week ago, after playing boring, easy-to-handle long balls forward to an isolated Toni Duggan, not much for the 19,829 fans in the crowd to get excited about.
Coming out for the second half, England didn’t make their first change after Fran Kirby came off for Scott who didn’t make the impact she had made in previous games.
The game then came alive when goalie Karen Bardsley pushed the ball out for a corner which on a second glance didn’t need making as it was going wide.
Whipped in, Bardsley was trapped amongst English and Norwegian players, after Williams lost her player and Solveig Gulbrandsen flicked the ball over her head, the ball going in off the bar.
This seemed to be the wakeup call England needed as five minutes later Houghton connected brilliantly with an England corner and levelled for the Lionesses with her head before Bronze’s golden moment which left coach Mark Sampson delighted.
“The team have made history, they deserve all the credit in the world,” said the Welshman.
“They’ve delivered for their country, shown fantastic character and discipline and we’ll take a lot from this game.”
On reflection on Bronze’s goal, he said: “It’s a squad effort that’s all I can say, the subs and support were amazing, we want to continue.”
Image courtesy of FATV via YouTube, with thanks.