Lionesses are back on track

France Women v England Women – UEFA Women’s Championship Qualification – League A – Group 3 – Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Ettienne – Report

France Women 1-2 England Women  

Goals by Georgia Stanway and Alessia Russo saw defending European champions England through to a memorable 2-1 victory over France in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne.

The win – following their 2-1 defeat to the same opponents in Newcastle on Friday – marked England’s first success on French soil for fifty-one years and puts the Lionesses Euro 2025 qualifying campaign firmly back on track.

Sarina Wiegman made just one change to her starting line-up following the loss at St James Park with Chelsea keeper Hannah Hampton coming in to replace the injured Mary Earps.

With the Lionesses dominant from the start, just after the twenty-minute mark Lauren Hemp glided past two defenders before laying the ball back to Stanway on the edge of the box to drive powerfully past Pauline Peyraud-Magnin and make it 1-0.

Russo nodded home Hemp’s low, curling cross to double England’s lead in the thirty-fourth minute.     

Following the break, Wendie Renard’s header set up a good chance for Marie-Antoinette Katoto, only for the Paris Saint-Germain striker to agonisingly direct the ball wide of the far post.

Selma Bacha’s long-range effort went close shortly after before the French were awarded a penalty in the seventy-second minute when skipper Leah Williamson was adjudged to have tripped Grace Geyoro in the box.

Kadidiatou Diani, on her 100th international appearance, stepped forward to send Hampton the wrong way from the spot and pull one back for France.

With the goal ramping up the pressure on England as the hosts frantically pushed forward in search of an equaliser, Hampton produced a magnificent fingertip save to deny Katoto from close range in the final seconds as the Lionesses hung on for the win which saw them remain third in the group  – two points behind the French and trailing second-place Sweden on goal difference.

The loss was France’s first defeat in fifty-nine major championship qualifying games.

England’s final two group matches take place next month – against the Republic of Ireland at Carrow Road, Norwich on Friday, July 12 (8pm) followed by a trip to Sweden on Tuesday, July 16 (6pm).

Coach Wiegman spoke to following the game –

“Of course, it [the win] gives us a boost.

“We want to win and we are in a better position now. The group is totally open.

“We said from the beginning this is a very tough group, with top, top-level teams and this is exactly what you see with Sweden also and Ireland, who are hard to beat.

“Most of all, we did better than Friday when we played parts of the game well but in their final third and our final third with corners, we didn’t do well.

“I think the first half is one of the best halves we have ever played but the team effort pleased me most tonight.

“Of course, the second half is going to be different because you are 2-0 up and they are going to push but we worked so hard to stay together, to keep the win and more things gave me joy tonight.”

France: Peyraud-Magnin, de Almeida, Bacha (Baltimore 90+3’) Henry (Toletti 46’) Lakrar (Périsset 73’) Renard (Capt) Diani, Geyoro, Katoto, Dali (Becho 90+2’) Karchaoui (D. Cascarino 46’) Subs not used: Durand, E. Cascarino, Le Garrec, Benyahia, Dufour, Samoura, Picaud

England: Hampton, Bronze, Carter, Walsh, Bright, Williamson (Capt) Mead (Kelly 75’) Stanway, Russo, Toone (Kirby 90’) Hemp. Subs not used: Greenwood, Keating, Naz, Beever-Jones, Clinton, Le Tissier, Park, Thomas, Morgan, Turner

Referee: Ivana Martinčić

Assistants: Sanja Rodjak-Karšić and Maja Petravić

Fourth Official: Sabina Bolic