England end 43-year jinx against France at Euro 2017

Jodie Taylor guides team into last four as Mark Sampson's pre-match gamble pays off

Jodie Taylor scores for England against France
Jodie Taylor scores for England against France
(Image credit: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)

A great summer for women's sport continued on Sunday, as England beat France for the first time in 43 years to book a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2017.

The 1-0 win, which sees the Lionesses face Holland next, came courtesy of a 60th-minute goal from Jodie Taylor, who fired home to take her tally for the tournament to five.

It was the first time England had beaten France since 1974. Victory was especially sweet for manager Mark Sampson, who had "engaged in potentially high-risk mind games" before the match, reports Louise Taylor of The Guardian.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Sampson described French coach Olivier Echouafni as "wet behind the ears" and insisted his team would find a way to win.

"[He] is now the first England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey to reach two consecutive semi-finals at major tournaments and, in doing so, it involved a first victory over France since 1974," says Taylor.

"Sampson appreciates just how significant victory was in the context of the bigger picture involving the growth of the women’s game in England."

The manager said he was "proud" of the way his team had captured the imagination of fans. “It’s a very long time since the public felt a genuine sense of belief and not just hope, that an England team could win a major championship and the players have earned the right to put themselves in that bracket," he said.

England have now been installed as favourites for the tournament.

"With Germany exiting the tournament at the hands of Denmark, England will fancy their chances of lifting the trophy having beaten the three other semi-finalists in the past nine months," says Gary Jacob of The Times.

The run to the last four has stirred some "long forgotten feelings", says Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph.

"It has been too long since football supporters in England could take pride in their national team. It is even longer since they could allow themselves to believe one is good enough to win a major tournament. They can do so now."

However, the team cannot afford to relax.

"England have always believed they are good enough to win this tournament, but there is a world of difference between believing something and achieving it. Like an athlete who can break a world record in training, but never wins a medal, you have to be able to deliver when it matters. In that respect, this was a huge moment for England’s women.

"France had beaten England in three successive tournaments, stretching back to the 2011 World Cup. They beat them again back in March, but Sampson's side have finally put an end to that horrible run."

England vs France: War of words ahead of Euro 2017 clash

28 July

England will face France in the quarter-finals of Euro 2017 after beating Portugal in their final group game.

The match lacked conviction as a "much-changed England laboured to victory over Euro 2017's lowest ranked team," says the BBC.

Toni Duggan opened the scoring for England but they were pegged back by an equaliser for Caroline Mendes. Three minutes into the second half Nikita Parris scored a second to send the Lionesses into the last eight.

However, they will need to improve against France, their bogey team. "The Lionesses, the first England team – men's or women's – to finish a group with a perfect record since the 1982 men's World Cup, have not beaten France since 1974 and have lost to them in their past three major tournaments," says the BBC, which warns: "The French will not have been worried by this display."

The "fighting talk" has already begun ahead of Sunday's showdown, reports the Daily Mail.

Responding to comments from French coach Olivier Echouafni that his side are the one team England are scared of, manager Mark Sampson went on the attack.

"He's wet around the ears when it comes to tournament football," he said. "What is it? Played three, won one? My record now is played 11, won nine. He'll learn who to take on and who not to.

"We will work out a way to beat France. Congratulations to them for finishing second in their group. We finished top."

It's hard to predict the outcome, says the Daily Telegraph. "England will argue they are a far better team than they were when France beat them 3-0 in this tournament four years ago, but Echouafni will point out his team also beat them 2-1 in March.

"Such is the confidence within the camp, England will still believe they are good enough to reach the latter stages of the tournament. France, though, are their bogey team. It sets up a fascinating tussle for a place in the semi-final."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.