In the minutes leading up to Thursday’s World Cup quarterfinal meeting with Norway, England Manager Phil Neville told Fox’s broadcasters, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not ready to go home yet.” Based on his team’s dominating performance Thursday, it’s safe to say the Lionesses weren’t ready to head home, either. England reached its second straight World Cup semifinal, and second in program history, with a 3-0 win that could easily have been worse for the Norwegians.
England, which hasn’t conceded a goal in 371 minutes, recorded its fourth straight shutout, and now awaits the winner of Friday’s France-United States quarterfinal.
In front of a crowd in Le Havre that included David Beckham and his daughter, England midfielder Jill Scott got the party started with a neat score off an assist from right back Lucy Bronze barely two minutes into the game. Scott’s goal was the quickest in England’s World Cup history and her first of the tournament.
Following that initial English burst both teams began to find a rhythm, but England continued to control much of the possession. Struggles in the English back line allowed Norway a few promising chances for an equalizer, but in the 40th minute England’s Ellen White decided it was time to put the kids to bed as she scored her tournament-leading fifth goal, off a cross from Nikita Parris, for a 2-0 lead.
White passed Kelly Smith as England’s all-time leading scorer at a single World Cup. The goal also moved her into a tie with American Alex Morgan and Australia’s Sam Kerr atop the Golden Boot race.
Lucy Bronze added a third goal in the 57th minute, but by that point the game was already in hand.
England fell short in the 2015 World Cup semifinals, 2-1, versus Japan. It will get another shot to reach its first final Tuesday in Lyon.
Norway, long a women’s soccer power, was eliminated by England for the second straight World Cup.
83rd minute: England almost gets another
Maria Thorisdottir of Norway fouled England’s Stephanie Houghton in the box to set up an English penalty. Nikita Parris’s attempt, though, was deflected by Norwegian goalie Ingrid Hjelmseth to maintain the 3-0 score.
70th minute: Trouble in the back
Despite the 3-0 lead, England’s back line (n.), back-line (adj.) continues to struggle with unforced errors. Center back Millie Bright, who’s been dealing with a virus, has struggled throughout the match with multiple sloppy passes.
57th minute: England scores
Lucy Bronze punished the net with a missile off a free-kick set piece to put England up, 3-0. Bronze’s goal was England’s third of the day, by as many scorers. If there were any worry about the Lionesses taking their foot off the gas in the second half, those concerns were extinguished quickly.
47th minute: Norway threatens
Right out of the half, Caroline Graham Hansen found a sliver of space, but her mid-air hesitation led to another missed opportunity for Norway.
Halftime: England in control
England holds a 2-0 lead and is in complete control. The Lionesses are outshooting Norway, 7-3, and have four shots on goal to Norway’s none. Norway hasn’t been unable to create much on the offensive end, outside of a few runs made possible by unforced English errors. The Grasshoppers’ most potent weapon on offense, Caroline Graham Hansen, has been neutralized by multiple English defenders. There’s still another half, but it’s tough to imagine that any of this has gone according to plan for Norway.
40th minute: England scores
Ellen White scored her fifth goal of this World Cup to put England up by two goals. Nikita Parris sent a beautiful cross to White deep in Norway’s end for what may have been her easiest goal of this tournament. With the goal, White passed Kelly Smith as England’s all-time leading scorer at a single World Cup. The goal also moved her into a tie with American Alex Morgan and Australia’s Sam Kerr atop the Golden Boot race.
31st minute: A near miss for Ellen White
Things have settled substantially following the early English goal. Both team’s outside backs have played a prominent role in creating promising chances offensively. The Lionesses are dominating the ball, holding about 60 percent of possession. And Golden Boot candidate Ellen White nearly put England up two goals with a screaming shot off the post.
3rd minute: England scores
The Lionesses wasted no time flexing their offensive muscles. Midfielder Jill Scott deposited a beautiful ball from right defender Lucy Bronze into the back of the net to secure an early lead. Scott’s score was the quickest goal in England’s Women’s World Cup history.
Kickoff: Good news for England
England got good news before kickoff, when two defenders whose statuses were in doubt, Steph Houghton and Millie Bright, were both listed in the starting 11.
Among the luminaries rooting for the Lionesses: Wayne Rooney in Washington, and David Beckham in Le Havre.
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