England advanced to another Women’s World Cup semi-final after beating Norway 3-0 in Le Havre.
Jill Scott put Phil Neville’s side ahead with a fine finish in just the third minute at the Stade Oceane, the earliest goal of the tournament so far and the fastest England have scored at any edition.
Ellen White, having hit the post just before the half-hour mark, made it 2-0 with a 40th-minute tap-in, taking her goal tally in France to five as she moved alongside the United States’ Alex Morgan and Australia’s Sam Kerr as the tournament’s joint top-scorer.
And Lucy Bronze then added a superb third in the 57th minute, smashing a shot past Ingrid Hjelmseth from just outside the box.
Norway, showing more threat in the second half than in the first, came close to pulling a goal back soon after when substitute Lisa-Marie Utland’s shot was cleared off the line by Steph Houghton.
England then had the chance to extend their lead with seven minutes of normal time remaining, but Nikita Parris’ penalty was saved by Hjelmseth – the second time in the campaign she has failed with an effort from the spot.
Neville’s team can now look forward to a last-four clash next Tuesday in Lyon against either hosts France or holders the United States, who meet in Paris on Friday night.
It is the third successive major tournament in which the Lionesses have made the semi-finals, following the runs at the 2015 World Cup and Euro 2017.
England coach Phil Neville insists he and the team are having the “time of our lives” after reaching the semi-finals.
“We expected nothing else and that’s not being arrogant. I thought it should have been four or five (goals),” he told BBC One. “That is the level of performance we have been showing. We are having the time of our lives. We are just where we want to be.”
Neville also heaped praise on Bronze.
“What you have seen tonight is that Lucy Bronze is the best player in the world: there is no player like her in the world, no player who has her athleticism and quality. I played full-back but never to that level she played at.”
Progression means England head to a last-four clash against France or the USA in Lyon, the city where Bronze plays her club football for the Champions League winners.
“I’ve been dreaming of getting to Lyon and playing in that semi-final,” she told BBC One. “I’m excited to be going to Lyon now. We know USA or France will be a top team and we will have to raise our game to another level.”
- A look at how the England players rated in the 3-0 win over Norway
Karen Bardsley: Barely needed in the first half but stood tall when Norway began to grow in confidence against a tiring defence after the break. Bailed out by captain Steph Houghton at one point. 7
Lucy Bronze: A fantastic raid down the right wing produced a lightning-quick opener and, as well as driving home a game-killing screamer of her own, she did everything right in defence. 10
Keira Walsh: Gave the ball away twice as she settled into the game slowly, but largely coped well. 6
Steph Houghton: Typically immovable at the back alongside Millie Bright and two fabulous clearances – one off the goal-line – quelled any hopes Norway held of reducing the arrears. 8
Millie Bright: She recovered from a dodgy back-pass miscommunication with Bardsley to work effectively with Houghton to keep Barcelona star Caroline Graham Hansen quiet throughout. 7
Nikita Parris: It would be harsh to criticise for her tame penalty miss, with the game already won, as before that Parris had been a constant menace in and around Norway’s box. 7
Jill Scott: Whether or not she knew White was dummying the ball through to her from Bronze’s superb cross, Scott reacted coolly to slot home just two minutes in. England never looked back. 7
Fran Kirby: Appeared to struggle against tall centre-backs but showed flashes of skill to keep the ball moving forward. 6
Toni Duggan: Full of energy after missing two group-stage games, Duggan tracked back tirelessly to help close down the Norwegians before being withdrawn early in the second half. 7
Demi Stokes: Replacing Alex Greenwood as the only change, she was kept busy by Karina Saevik and will have been relieved no penalty was awarded when the ball hit her hand in the box before half-time. 6
Ellen White: Was it a dummy? Was it a miskick? Either way it helped Scott give England a very early boost, with White soon adding to her own fine World Cup goal tally at a key point in the match. 7
Beth Mead (on for Duggan, 53): Supplied the ammunition for Bronze’s rocket of a goal. 6
Georgia Stanway (on for Kirby, 74): Shored things up in the middle as Norway’s fightback faded. 6
Rachel Daly (on for Parris, 87): No time to make an impact. 6