With one of the best goals of the tournament so far, Lucy Bronze sealed England’s first-ever victory in a World Cup knockout match with a stunning strike in last night’s 2-1 win over Norway.
When Bronze received the ball from Jodie Taylor, there was room – just enough room for the right back to take a step, look up, and thunder a one-touch shot from just outside the box. The ball sailed towards the upper-right side of the goal, just barely making it past Norwegian goalie Ingrid Hjelmseth’s hands, hitting the net. The goal from 16 yards out has been one of the best of the tournament, and came at just the right moment for the Lionesses.
Trailing 1-0 shortly after the first half, England looked to be the second-best team, playing flat and without energy. But they weren’t willing to give up, levelling the score just seven minutes later with Steph Houghton’s header from a corner. The equalizer completely changed the dynamic of the game, giving England the confidence to be able to put away the game in the 76th minute.
The goal for Bronze came at the perfect time for the defender, as she made some major mistakes in the first half- one that could have led to a Norway goal if it wasn’t for goalkeeper Karen Bardsley. Bronze had been told to shoot before in training, but had mostly been hesitant because she felt that she is not a goal-scorer.
“I just found myself on the edge of the box – you know, I find myself there quite a lot because I like to attack and I like to get forward,” Bronze told espnW. “I’ve been doing it in training a lot, but I would always tend to pass it and say, ‘Go on, you shoot.'”
She finally decided to take a chance, and that was the determining factor for the match.
“Before every game Mark (Sampson) is like, ‘Luce, you’re gonna score today,’ and I’ve been like, ‘I’m not, I’m a defender — let me just defend!’ But he still says, ‘No, you’re gonna score.’ I guess it paid off today, all that confidence he’s been giving me in the past,” Bronze said. “And then I scored my goal and — job done.”
Yet the job is not quite done for the English squad, as they take on home-team Canada on Sunday at 12:30 in the morning local time. England lost to Canada 1-0 in their final friendly before the World Cup.
“It’ll be an absolutely amazing atmosphere,” Bardsley said. “They’re the hosts, so they’ll be the ones under pressure, not us. We want to capitalise on that.”
If England wins the next match, they will have gone further than any other Lioness team in the Women’s World Cup. The addition of eight teams in the Women’s World Cup changed the round of play for the tournament, but winning against Canada would put them in the semi-finals for the first time ever.
“These players will always be remembered as the first England side to win a knockout match at a World Cup,” manager Mark Sampson said. “We’ll be inked in the history of England soccer forever, but I reiterate: We want this journey to continue. This team is determined to inspire the next generation. Determined.”