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Women’s World Cup – France 1-0 England: Lionesses defeated by stunning strike

England kicked off their Women’s World Cup campaign with a defeat to France in their Group F opener.

The Lionesses travelled to Canada with high hopes, with captain Steph Houghton insisting they have the belief to “go all the way” in the tournament.

This first tie was also the chance to take revenge against the French following a penalty shoot-out defeat in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals and a 3-0 hiding at Euro 2013, but they struggled to perform against one of the favourites for the title, and a team ranked third in the world rankings.

Mark Sampson’s side failed to land a shot on target as France dominated the first half, with their best chance falling to Chelsea midfielder Katie Chapman, whose chipped effort sailed over the crossbar.

The only goal on the game came on the half-hour mark, and in fine style too, as Lyon forward Eugenie Le Sommer found the top corner with stunning long-range drive from 25-yards.

England posed more of a threat after the break as head coach Sampson sent on attacking reinforcements to test tiring opponents, with Manchester City’s Jill Scott firing their first – and only – shot on target, but her neat half-volley was hit straight at the France goalkeeper.

The French went close to a second late on when Camille Abily had a shot blocked on the line, but the one goal proved enough for the win.

Despite defeat, England still stand a strong chance of reaching the last 16. Rated the world’s sixth best team by FIFA, in their remaining group games they face 25th-ranked Mexico on Saturday and 28th-ranked Colombia next Wednesday, and would expect to beat both.

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