After watching Not Going Out on BBC 1 followed by catching up on A League of Their Own on Sky One it was time for England to take on the home favourites Canada at half past midnight British time for a place in the World Cup semi-final something England Women have never achieved before.
From an England perspective the main changes to the line-up were the introductions of Jodie Taylor and Jill Scott from the beginning after making a great impact from the bench against Norway in the last round.
Canada started the match the brighter of the two teams on the ball capitalising on a few mistakes from England which they got away with in the opening couple of minutes. Some tremendous skill from Christine Sinclair set up Tancredi one on one with Karen Bardsley in goal and fired way over just after the seven minute mark. After such a bright start from Canada it was England who got the first goal of the match through Jodie Taylor as the forward pounced on a slip from Lauren Sesselmann and then got past Chapman before coolly slotting home to give England the lead!
Would you believe it! Seconds after scoring the first England scored the second after Lucy Bronze out jumped Allysha Chapman to put England 2-0 up before the 15 minute mark! Unbelievable!
If the pressure wasn’t on Canada before to perform well on their home soil it was now and another chance went begging from Tancredi after some poor marking from England but her header was well over the bar. Another mistake from Sesselmann in the Canadian defence followed after a bit of miscommunication in defence and she ended up giving away a corner with a poor clearance, thankfully for her it didn’t turn out to be much trouble.
Groans from the Canadian fans continued to grow as Jodie Taylor kept on causing problem after problem for the two centre half’s with her excellent runs and work rate winning a free kick which Fara Williams took and on the 27 minute came close to scoring a third after the header from Chapman hit the bar.
Pressure started to mount from Canada with their second corner in a few minutes just after the half hour mark however the corner was dealt with comfortably from Karen Bardsley with just 11 minutes to go before half time. Just as England looked good for a 2-0 half time lead Canada managed to drag one back after a cross from Ashley Lawrence was spilled from Bardsley and the player with over 200 caps Christine Sinclair put Canada right back in the match.
After an exceptional 15 minutes from England going 2-0 up they would be disappointed to concede a cheap goal after a poor mistake from Bardsley in goal but still lead the home favourites in Vancouver.
The second half got underway with no substitutes from either side with 45 minutes for Canada to their World Cup campaign back on track.
The first half chance of the second half came from Karen Carney who shot from distance with her effort causing a few problems with her shot landing on top of the net. Within the first five minutes of the half England were forced into a substitution after Karen Bardsley sat down due to a cut in her eye and was substituted for Siobhan Chamberlain of Arsenal.
A good run with the ball from Buchanan set up Sinclair who put in a good ball into the box but England got back into position to quickly to get rid of any danger. Seconds later down the other end Schmidt lost the ball easily in midfield and Karen Carney capitalised on it setting up Jodie Taylor’s who would have scored without the excellent save from McLeod in goal unhappy at her team mates with the resulting corner leading to nothing from England.
A penalty shout for England on the hour mark as Jill Scott managed to work a ball into the box and found Karen Carney with the ball bouncing off her knee onto her hand before being fouled by the defender but the referee gave Canada a free kick. Moments Steph Houghton had a moment of panic in the box as she left the ball behind when trying to clear but was helped out by her team mates around her.
Karen Carney who had an excellent game continued to work hard and won a free kick on the edge of the box on the 74th minute which was taken by captain Steph Houghton however it was an easy free kick for McLeod to hold on to. Just a minute later Canada found themselves in the England box and Sinclair’s effort which was on target was headed away by Houghton before it could cause any problems for Chamberlain in the England goal. Another good ball out to Jodie Taylor caused problems for the centre half’s and her pass nearly found Jill Scott one on one but Sesselmann managed to clear.
The first outfield substitution from England was Fara Williams being replaced by Ellen White with Jill Scott dropping deeper in midfield and some fresh legs in Ellen White who will run all day with just 10 minutes to go.
A chance came for Canada as substitute Leon got the better of Houghton however the ball was scrambled away from Claire Rafferty in the England defence before Schmidt fired over from 10 yards a few moments later.
With just two minutes to go all the pressure on the England goal as a number of Canadian players refuse to take a shot before a cross/shot is held by Chamberlain. After some poor clearing from England, Canada win a corner with just 60 seconds of normal time to go but Sinclair couldn’t trouble England with her header.
Another cheap free kick from the referee this time for England who books Sesselmann for blocking Taylor but as the last player she should be sent off, meanwhile Casey Stoney comes on for Karen Carney with just two minutes to go. Just three players forward for England including free kick taker Houghton and her effort flew over the crossbar with just 90 seconds to go!
Everything was being thrown at England and Chamberlain pounced on a long ball from the Canadian defence with less than 30 seconds to go! Canada didn’t have time to launch another attack as the referee blew the whistle and England on their way to a first World Cup semi-final to play Japan!