aside France vs England Women – Liveblog!!

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France 2 vs England Women 2 – 19.50 BST – Charlety Stadium, Paris

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Full Time – France 2 – 2 England

Well, it’s not altogether a bad result for England, but what a curious game.  England went in 2-0 up at half time and played extremely well for the most part, but crumbled as the pitch fell apart around them.  Hope Powell would have taken a draw at the start and nobody ought to doubt the strength of a result like this, but it could have been so much more.

That’s England Women signing out for 2012 and it’s been a great year for international women’s football.  There’s still another leg of the playoffs for Euro 2013 before the end of the year, but with England qualified by virtue of victory in their qualification group that will be of only passing interest to Powell’s side.

And, on that note, we’ll be signing out for the evening.  It’s been a pleasure, thanks so much for joining us.  Have a great Saturday.

Added Time

We’re into time added on and, frankly, since the last set of England substitutions the team’s shape has gone entirely.  Currently it looks like a 4-2-3-1, but goodness knows who’s playing in what part of that.  France are making a late change with Thomis coming off having only come on at half time.  Like I say.  Strange.

5 Minutes Left

This might be one of the strangest games of football I’ve seen all season.  France dominated the first half yet go in 2-0 down, England are the better team through the second half, create nothing and two defensive mix ups see their lead wiped out.  The pitch turns into a bog and France might have had a penalty but for Tomis’ refusal to go to ground.  Oh, international football, you strange tease you.

GOAL! France 2 – England 2

What a very, very odd equalising goal that is.  Route one, neither England defender cuts it out and Delie’s one-touch lob catches Chamberlain in no man’s land.  It’s a delightful finish, but Hope Powell will be furious with her defenders.  Someone has to cut that out.

10 Minutes Left

I’m not quite sure what the England shape is after those changes, but Alex Scott is basically playing on the wing at the moment.  Looks like Susi is playing at right back with Toni Duggan now playing exclusively through the centre.

Changes – England

Laura Bassett on for Sophie Bradley, Ellen White off for Dunia Susi.  Might not be a debut match for Jordan Nobbs.

Steph Houghton has just shown outstanding composure to knick the ball from Tomis in her own box and keep possession.  Brilliant from the left back.

Chance – France

Delie heads over after Tomis gets around Houghton for the second time in five minutes.  She’s a little bit like Eni Aluko in that her pace sometimes outdoes her end product.  Houghton still doesn’t look entirely comfortable after that knock, but clearly keen to stay on.

Phew

Houghton’s coming back on.  Could have been really nasty that, real relief to see her back on her feet.

Chance – France!

Tomis displays astonishing pace down the French right and is almost cut down in the area by Steph Houghton who injures herself in the process and it looks like it could be a bad one.  She grasped her knee immediately but thankfully she’s up on her feet.  If Tomis had gone down, that was a penalty.  Houghton was caught out of position and burned by Tomis’ pace.

Chance – England!

Toni Duggan comes so close to a first international goal, cutting in from the right before lancing a shot just over the French bar.  Meanwhile, Jill Scott and Fara Williams are covering every single blade of grass in the midfield areas.  Just caught a close up shot of part of the French goal line.  It’s a marsh.

England Change

Siobhan Chamberlain on for Bardlsey.  Not sure I understand that one.  She’s essentially a third choice international ‘keeper, but Rachel Brown had to pull out of the squad.  Why change your ‘keeper in a game like this?  Particularly when she’s played that well.  Strange decision.

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain

Neither players, nor the ball are moving terribly well right now.  There’s no standing water out there as yet, but this is one of the heaviest pitches I’ve seen this year.  And France almost capitalise on another England pass which falls short before Bardsley pulls out another fine save.

Ellen White

Well, she just had to go and show me, didn’t she?  A superb first touch kills the ball entirely allowing her to feed Toni Duggan, whose long-range shot flies wide.  The rain is absolutely lashing down out there now and the pitch is starting to really kill the ball along the ground.  It looks a bit like the England-Poland game in the men’s football just now.  Filthy evening.

Phew

Anita Asante does brilliantly to take on possession before putting Fara Williams in all sorts of trouble with a woefully short pass.  She manages to turn her body before being utterly clattered by one of the French midfielders.  Thankfully she’s okay, but that could’ve been much uglier than it was.

What a save!

England’s defence falls apart to present the French forwards with a clear view of goal, but Karen Bardsley readjusts her feet in a split second to pluck the shot out of the air from barely 6 yards.  Super, super save and England – somehow – still lead.

Alanis Morrisette Alert!

France dominate, England score.  England dominate, France score.  Isn’t it….well, you know the rest.

GOAL!! France 1 – 2 England

Is there a more vocal coach in women’s football than the England coach?  Her throat must be torn to shreds after every game.  Game’s gone a little quiet in the last few minutes, both teams’ shape has altered after the halftime changes…

Oh.  Oh dear.  Toni Duggan, I’m so sorry, I’ve jinxed you horribly.  Duggan’s backpass is far, far, far too short and Delie latches onto it, rounds Karen Bardsley and rolls into them empty net.  The pitch played a part, but that was horrible.

More Controversy

I’m not entirely sure what Ellen White contributes to this England team.  She’s a great player and a superb forward, but within this England team where there’s nobody of the quality of Kim Little to work behind her, as at club level, her impact is significantly lessened.  Duggan looks like the better option to me in the long term.

Controversy!

France should have a penalty.  Casey Stoney clearly fouls Delie in the area but somehow the Italian referee waves away the French protests.  Mssr Bini’s Gallic shrug presumably hides a world of rage.

Super Block

Sophie Bradley showing her youth a little as she misjudges a bounce in the area leaving what looks like a nailed on goal for the French – before Alex Scott pulls out a block even better than her clearance from the line in the first half.  The right back came out of absolutely nowhere to deny France a goal.  If she isn’t the best right back in the world, I’d love to see the woman that beats her.

50 Minutes

England dominating possession in the first stages of this second half and the pace and hustle of Toni Duggan has really put pressure on the French back line.  Jill Scott looks to have been freed up somewhat by Fara Williams’ introduction and Williams herself looks like she wants to get involved everywhere in the opening minutes.  I’m not sure either French substitute has touched the ball yet.

Subs

Ah, it’s Rachel Yankey and Eni Aluko.  Surprised that Aluko’s come off, it kinda looks like Carney is playing on the wing now with Toni Duggan leading the line for England with Ellen White playing off the right for the time being.  Interesting move from Hope Powell, but delighted to see Toni Duggan winning her second England cap.  The Everton forward is a real talent.

Second Half – Kick Off

France start things off in this second half in Paris with half time changes for both teams, Fara Williams and Toni Duggan on for England, not sure whose come off as yet.  Catala and Thomis on for the French.

VT Time

And it’s a piece about the new St George’s complex.  Well worth a watch this, it’s truly state of the art.

Half Time – France 0 – 2 England

What to say of that half?  Well, France dominated for 30 minutes with possession, chances and some lovely forward interplay.  But then Eni Aluko’s pace began to tell and the first goal came directly from her pressure on the ‘keeper.  England’s second was a delightful team goal, beginning with Casey Stoney’s ball through to Karen Carney.  Carney found Rachel Yankey.  Her cross met the onrushing Jill Scott and suddenly France were 2-0 down.  Superb team goal.

Into Added Time

1 extra minute indicated by the fourth official and France have a corner.  The flipside of Scott and Houghton pushing on is that when the French can get the ball down in midfield, there’s suddenly a lot more space for them in the channels.  Bardsley punches well at the first attempt before a brilliant block by (I think) Anita Asante denies the French a late goal.

0-2 at half time and England will be delighted to go in ahead.  France look shattered.

43 Minutes Played

And suddenly England are finding space around the French midfield with Alex Scott and Steph Houghton finally pushing up to operate as auxiliary midfielders.  Aluko and White are now almost playing as a proper front two, while Asante has pushed right up on the French midfield denying their forwards space in between the lines.

40 Minutes Played

Just before England’s second goal, I was about to say that England’s midfield are being completely bypassed in this match.  That was a stunning move, though, taking in Stoney, Asante and Yankey before Scott’s delightful header.  Hope Powell will be delighted with her charges here, they’ve held on for the first 30 minutes and in the latter stages of the half shown superb attacking intent.

GOAL!!!  France 0 – 2 England!

What a superb goal from Jill Scott who ghosts into the area and meets Rachel Yankey’s first time cross to drop the ball over the French ‘keeper and into the net.  Brilliant team goal started out in the right back position by Casey Stoney.  England have turned this game completely on its head.

35 Minutes

And England are leading.  Yes, it’s against the run of play but the England goal came as the culmination of the first really sustained period of England pressure.  France are still dominating possession, but England have finally found themselves in this match and are beginning to test the French going forwards.  There’s a real game on the cards here now, and much of England’s attacking impetus has come from Eni Aluko – she’s just an entirely different player when coming in off the flanks.

GOAL!!!! France 0 – 1 England!!!

It’s Steph Houghton, straight from the free kick after the French ‘keeper’s handball.  She has absolutely hammered that, smashed it.  Bullet.  What a hit.

Corner for England

And it all started with Eni Aluko’s pace down the left when she burned the French left back before powering into the area and drawing a late, late French challenge.  In fact, Aluko’s pace is causing problems all over the pitch and the French ‘keeper has just gone into the book having handled the ball outside of the area when chased down by the England forward.  Could have been worse for France, but they continue with 11.

Half an Hour Gone

England have just put together their best attacking move of the match, but Alex Scott’s cross is overhit.  She made up the space from the right back position brilliantly there and was superbly found by Eni Aluko, but the final ball was lacking.  Encouragement for England in the final third, finally.

OFF THE LINE!

How are England still level?!  France got through down the left, but what is Le Sommer playing at?  Going for a backheeled finish, she manages to turn in the area before poking the ball beyond Bardsley, but her over-elaboration allows Alex Scott to get back onto the line and turn the ball away.  Stupendous defending from the England right back.  Thank goodness she changed those boots…

25 Minutes In

France dominating possession.  England giving it away far too often.  Bardlsey being tested from range.  Repeat ad infinitum…

England…

Cannot keep giving the ball away like this.  Every time the ball gets towards the England front line, a loose pass or poor touch gifts it straight back to the French.  This French team is utterly superb in defence, but England need to make them work to regain the ball.  It’s all so pedestrian so far.

Save!

Superb stop from Karen Bardlsey in the England goal, clawing a shot from 20-yards just past her right hand post.  Strong wrists from the England ‘keeper who’s looked shaky under pressure from crosses but supremely confident otherwise.  And Alex Scott is finally changing her boots.  Not before time.

15 Minutes in

And the game is yet to settle into any sort of clear pattern as yet.  France have been the better team and England are really struggling to get Steph Houghton and Alex Scott into the game in an attacking sense as yet.  The Arsenal pair are so strong when pushing forwards and their inability to do so today has really neutered England’s threat thus far.

Skillz!

France’s goalkeeper Bouhadi has just turned Ellen White on the edge of her own area with some absolutely beautiful ball skills.  Best moment of the match so far.  Yes, it’s that sort of match.

Chance – France!

Straight up the other end and Le Sommer smacks a shot from 25 yards just wide of Bardlsey’s right hand post.  England gave the ball away far, far too easily in between midfield and defence again there.

Chance – England!

Out of nothing, Ellen White and Eni Aluko almost fashion a clear shot at the French goal having seized possession on the right flank.  France got back well, though, and ten minutes in England are just starting to settle in to the match.

Chance – France!

6 minutes in and France have penetrated the England defence on two or three occasions already.  Alex Scott either needs to change her studs or tighten her boots as she’s slipped when looking to intercept on the right flank twice already.

3 Minutes

Really scrappy opening, particularly from England who’ve looked so messy in possession so far and gifted France a couple of open shots from distance.  There’s a lot of fluency in the French team with the front 5 swapping positions almost at will.  Big job for Anita Asante this evening in front of the England defence.

Kick Off

I’ve never seen a match at the Charlety Stadium and the stands a long way back from the pitch due to the athletics track that circles the stadium.  Which is what the Olympic Stadium could look like if West Ham win their bid.  A talk for another day, that.

England to kick off, kicking left to right.

Time for the Anthems

And the England players are singing!  Makes a nice change to the men’s team.  The French are going for it too and there’s a pretty decent French support out in Paris this evening.  A lot of flags on show.  France vs England – doesn’t get much better than this.

France line up in a 4-1-3-2 formation with Delie and Necib leading the line.  Could be a danger to the England defence this evening, both of those women.

VT Time

Sophie Bradley getting profiled along with a few of the England Women’s team’s younger players.  There’s obviously such a collegiate feel amongst Hope Powell’s side, and a lot of that seems to come to Powell herself.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Powell eventually moves on to other pastures.

Hope Powell

Is giving her lineup live on the BBC.  And she’s forgotten Alex Scott’s name.  Oh, Hope.  Anyway, the team is much as it always is – if nothing else, England have a good settled first XI.

Bardsley

Houghton-Stoney-Bradley-A Scott

J Scott-Asante

Yankey-Carney-Aluko

White

Pre-match

Interesting analysis in the BBC studio.  Better than Match of the Day in any case.  The Charlety Stadium is absolutely empty at the moment.  Fingers crossed that a few more people show up.  Women’s football needs TV coverage; it does not need TV coverage of empty stadia.

Oh thank goodness….

We’re now just 20 minutes away from kick-off and the BBC 3 coverage is about to begin.  Honestly, this has been the worst live blog ever so far.  If you’re reading this, I’m so, so, so sorry.  It’ll all get better from here.  Honest.

Stat Attack!

Just had a quick peek at the head to head record between these two teams and, if you’re an England fan, now might be a time to look away.  France and England have faced one another 4 times in internationals.  France have won all four.  Eep.

Michael Vaughan

Has absolutely nothing to do with women’s sport or football, but if anybody wants to see a cricketer demonstrating awful footwork, BBC1 is the place to be right now.

I’m this close to going out for wine.  Seriously.  Come on football….

One hour to kick off!

Okay, we admit it.  We might have started things a little bit early here.  While waiting for team news, we’re watching Strictly come Dancing and Victoria Pendleton is about to come onto stage.  That counts as women in sport right?  Right?!

Pre-Match Entertainment

If you’re here with us already and want to keep yourself amused, take a look at the Goal of the Season shortlist from the FAWSL.  There’s some blinders in there and while our personal pick was Aine O’Gorman’s stunner against Arsenal Ladies (she almost scored again from a similar distance late in the second half), there are a lot of bloody good goals in there.

Revenge

The last time these two teams met, the world’s most familiar tale played out with England beaten on penalties during a World Cup quarter final in which they had taken the lead.  Change the record, huh?

We’re around 90 minutes from kick off at present, and about an hour from coverage beginning on BBC3.  IT’s great to see women’s football given some genuine coverage on national television and perhaps the great British institution that is the BBC has finally woken up to the fact that women’s football is the third most widely played team sport in the UK.

Preamble

A last match of 2012 for England Women in a year which has been just brilliant for women’s football.  With qualification to next year’s European Championships in Sweden already secured for both teams, England Coach Hope Powell and her French counterpart Bruno Bini will be expected to use this friendly for both experimentation and a chance to assess how much work needs to be done between now and next summer.

England have had to contend with injury-related disruption in the past week, with original squad members Jess Clarke, Claire Rafferty, Rachel Brown and Kelly Smith all ruled out in the build up.  The England squad has strength in depth, though, and Arsenal starlet Jordan Nobbs could be in line for a first cap this evening fresh off the back of a successful league and cup double.  Casey Stoney, Fara Williams and Rachel Yankey ought to add to their 104, 106 and 120 caps respectively while Alex Scott will move onto 92 appearances for her country if the Arsenal full back starts as expected.

France, meanwhile, helped to light up the London 2012 Olympic Women’s Football tournament, making the semi-finals before losing to eventual silver medalists Japan.  With 11 goals scored in their six games, the French certainly know how to put on a show – as evidenced in a bonkers opening game of the tournament where they flew out of the blocks against the USA taking a 2-0 lead before ultimately falling to a 2-4 defeat against the gold medal winners.

We at The Sportist unashamedly love this French team, and as FIFA’s fifth ranked team, they will certainly prove stern opposition for England this evening.

Photo from goal.com – thank you!!

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