Bronze strikes gold for England

Published: Tuesday 23rd June 2015 by The News Editor

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Lucy Bronze’s superb winner fired England to their first ever knockout victory at a World Cup and through to a quarter-final against Canada.

The Lionesses will face the tournament’s hosts in Vancouver on Saturday after goals from captain Steph Houghton and flying full-back Bronze negated the effect of Solveig Gulbrandsen’s headed opener for Norway and clinched a 2-1 win.

The 1995 champions enjoyed the lion’s share of scoring opportunities in Ottawa but were largely kept at arm’s length by an alert Karen Bardsley and head home despite securing convincing group-stage wins over Ivory Coast and Thailand.

It only took Toni Duggan two minutes to get on the end of Bronze’s cross from deep, her header flashing wide but offering some early promise.

Norway would, however, steadily take control and soon carved out the best chance of the half.

Bardsley saved England, dropping low to deny the onrushing Isabell Herlovsen after the Lionesses’ defence was split by a clever through ball.

Kristine Minde was inches away from connecting with a cross that would have given Bardsley another scare and, just before the half-hour mark, Ada Hegerberg headed the ball over the crossbar.

England gave their opponents food for thought from their first corner of the match but Marita Skammelsrud Lund made a last-ditch clearance before a white-shirted player could tuck the loose ball away.

Bronze was grateful to Bardsley for sparing her blushes five minutes before the break, as the quick-thinking Hegerberg looked to pounce on a short back-pass and give Norway the lead heading into half-time.

They would instead open the scoring seven minutes after play resumed, Gulbrandsen heading Lene Mykjaland’s home at the near post.

For a few moments England looked subdued but they were in fact about to respond in the best possible way.

After cannily passing through Norway for several minutes, England won a corner on the stroke of 60 minutes. Fara Williams found the gap she needed to pick out Houghton, the Manchester City captain gladly converting with her head from close range.

Substitute Jill Scott might have turned the game on its head had she not sliced her shot from the edge of the box and, at the other end, Hegerberg repeated the trick but with greater accuracy, forcing Bardsley to fumble.

England would not have to wait too much longer to complete the comeback.

This time no set-piece was needed as right-back Bronze rifled home a sensational goal off her right boot following a swift passing exchange with Jodie Taylor.

Surviving the final 15 minutes was a daunting prospect given Norway’s early promise and Karen Carney fancied scoring a third to settle the contest.

The 27-year-old from Solihull twisted her body to create space for an attempt that sent Ingrid Hjelmseth sprawling to tip the ball around her far post.

Published: Tuesday 23rd June 2015 by The News Editor

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