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England Women on the brink of something special

GLORY: England Women celebrate their win over Canada

ENGLAND BOSS Mark Sampson was emotional and proud after his team reached the semi-final of the FIFA Women's World Cup.

The Lionesses beat hosts Canada 2-1 with both goals coming in the opening 15 minutes through Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze.

Canada captain Christine Sinclair pulled one back just before half-time in front of a partisan 54,000 crowd in Vancouver, but England held firm to take their place in the last four for the very first time.

Sampson said: “I’m so proud of this team. To get a result in that atmosphere against an excellent Canadian team is an incredible result.

“The crowd were unbelievable. I’ve never been in a stadium as loud and as passionate as that was.

“[Canada] left everything on the pitch. They could not have pushed us any further. We had to really dig deep to get the result we wanted.

“No Canadian player will come off that feeling they could have done any more. They made us fight for every ball. We had to stand up and front up to that challenge.

“We are history makers again. We are only the third England team to reach a [World Cup] semi-final. We now join that 1966 and 1990 crowd. I’m very, very proud of the whole team.”

England have had to recover from an opening-day defeat by France to book their place in a maiden semi-final.

They have since recorded four straight 2-1 victories and now face World Cup holders Japan in the last four on Wednesday.

Sampson added: “At this stage of the tournament I’m not sure there are any underdogs. Every game is a game where the team who delivers the best on the field finds a way to get themselves through.

“We are delighted to still be here. This team has shown incredible resilience, incredible character and togetherness to still be in this tournament.

“Against France we were right in the game until the last minute. Against Mexico and Colombia we played well and dominated. And the last two games have been about grinding out results and staying in the tournament.

“The players have showed their quality with ball, their quality with our defensive structure and they have showed a desire I have never seen from an England team before.”

Meanwhile, striker Taylor, who bagged the first goal with a fine strike after capitalising on a defensive lapse by Lauren Sesselmann, was holding back the tears at full-time.

"I am about to cry. It is amazing," said the 29-year-old. "Making history with England has been my goal for four or five years.

"I remember the other girl slipping and I hit it and it went in.
I am pretty tired now. I was feeling it for sure in the last 10 minutes, I just wanted to dig deep and make my nation proud.

"We all believe in each other, the atmosphere around the squad is amazing."

* This feature appears on www.thefacom

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