England beat Norway 3-0 to keep Olympic dream alive

England beat Norway 3-0 to keep Olympic dream alive

27 June 2019 / 21:40

Lucy Bronze’s rocket fired England into the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup - a strike every bit as emphatic as their 3-0 victory over Norway.

Phil Neville’s Lionesses will now face either defending champions the United States or France in the last four and their confidence is rightly soaring.

And, if the three-time winners beat the hosts in Paris on Friday, England’s win over Norway will have guaranteed Team GB a place at next year’s Olympic women’s football tournament, with the top three European sides qualifying for Tokyo.

England’s dominant display came as little surprise to Neville but the former Manchester United man held his highest praise for one player in particular.

“We expected nothing else really – that is not us being arrogant – that is just the level of performance we have been showing,” said Neville.

“We are having the time of our lives here – look at this spirit and look at this team, I actually thought it could have been four or five in the end.

“What you have seen tonight is that Lucy Bronze is the best player in the world without a shadow of a doubt.

“There is no player like her in the world – I played full-back myself but never ever to that standard – she is the best player in the world.

“My players have proven tonight that the bigger the occasion, the better we are, and we are having fun at the same time.”

An early goal from Jill Scott put the Lionesses in command before Ellen White doubled the lead just before half-time and Bronze put the icing on the cake a goal of the tournament contender.

Scott, who is now England’s most capped player at World Cups, swept home Bronze’s cut back for the fastest goal of the competition so far to give the Lionesses the lead.

The strike served to settle Neville’s players’ nerves and England looked in complete control as Nikita Parris fired a left-footed shot over the crossbar and White saw another ping back off the woodwork.

But five minutes before half-time, the two forwards combined perfectly for White to tuck home and move into position as the joint top scorer at the tournament, with USA’s Alex Morgan and Australia’s Sam Kerr on five goals.

Bronze has been an ever-present for Neville throughout the competition and showed exactly why she is playing for Champions League holders Olympique Lyon when she sent a rocket past Ingrid Hjelmseth to make it 3-0 on the hour mark.

England could have had a fourth late on but Parris saw her spot-kick saved for the second time in France, as Hjelmseth guessed the right way to save Norway’s blushes.

Bronze was part of the England team that made the semi-finals in Canada back in 2015 and for all her class and talent she still finds time to put to in the hard yards – and they seem to be paying off.

“I have been dreaming of playing in Lyon and getting to that semi-final and I have had to wait four years so I think that was all that pressure and passion coming out in that strike,” said the defender.

“To be fair I was practising that one this morning. We had training this morning and I tried a few of those shots at the end – so it is practice makes perfect I guess."