Report: France 1-1 England WU17s
Mari Ward scored with a stunning strike as England women's under-17s had to settle for a draw against France
England WU17s will face Spain in the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship after a closely-fought 1-1 draw with France.
Both teams went into Saturday’s match knowing they had already qualified but with France top of the group on goal difference.
And after Mari Ward’s stunning strike was cancelled out by Cancelle Effa Effa during a thrilling second half, Mo Marley’s England WU17s will now face Group A winners Spain on Tuesday.
France were the better team in the first half, having seven chances to England’s one, but it was the Young Lionesses’ effort which was to prove crucial.
Moments after goalkeeper Katie Cox produced a fine save to deny Naolia Traore, England left-back Ward dribbled forward before cutting inside onto her right foot and firing a shot into the top corner from 20 yards out.
France continued to push early in the second half and shortly after Cox needed to make another save from distance, she had right-back Ria Bose to thank for blocking Chancelle Effa Effa’s close-range shot on the line, with Lucy Newell’s subsequent clearance then being deflected over the bar.
England could have grabbed a second twice in quick succession though. Firstly, when Araya Dennis did superbly to win the ball back and run through on goal but her pass was a bit behind Isabella Fisher, who fired over.
Then Dennis did well again to get in on goal but after Lou Marchal saved her first effort, the Arsenal player sent the follow-up shot over the bar from close range.
As the teams entered the final quarter of an hour, Dennis had another wayward effort and the Young Lionesses were made to pay the price for not being more clinical when Traore burst through the defence and squared for Effa Effa to score.
The goal meant it would be France who would top the group, unless Mo Marley’s side were able to find another goal.
And although that second wouldn’t arrive, it wasn’t through a lack of trying as the game really opened up in the final stages.
Erica Parkinson’s cross-shot went just wide, Ward had another long-range effort and Fisher shot over the bar, all inside the final ten minutes, whilst France would have had a second had it not been for Newell’s block on the line after Maeline Mendy had rounded Cox.
But the game ended level, meaning France will now face either Germany or Switzerland, with England set to face Group A winners Spain on Tuesday.
England: 13 Katie Cox (Chelsea), 2 Ria Bose (Chelsea), 3 Mari Ward (Bristol City), 5 Katie Reid (Arsenal), 8 Lexi Potter (Chelsea) (c), 10 Lola Brown (Chelsea), 11 Ava Baker (Leicester City), 12 Milly Round (Aston Villa), 14 Holly Deering (Manchester United), 15 Lucy Newell (West Bromwich Albion), 18 Erica Parkinson (SC Leixoes)
Substitutes: 4 Laila Harbert (Arsenal) for Potter 60’, 20 Isabella Fisher (Arsenal) for Baker 60’, 7 Araya Dennis (Arsenal) for Round 60’, 16 Sophie Harwood (Southampton) for Bose 74’
Substitutes not used: 1 Sophia Poor (Leicester City), 6 Zara Shaw (Liverpool), 9 Michelle Agyemang (Arsenal), 19 Vera Jones (Barry Town)
Head coach: Mo Marley
Goal: Mari Ward 44’
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