England fell to a 1-0 defeat against France in their opening game of the Women’s World Cup in Moncton.
Eugénie Le Sommer scored the only goal of the game on 29 minutes, rasping a drive past goalkeeper Karen Bardsley into the top corner.
It was always going to be a tough test for the Three Lionesses who, coming into the match, had failed to beat their opponents since 1974, including defeats at Euro 2013 and the 2011 World Cup.
However, despite having 19 attempts on goal, Les Bleues didn’t create too many clear cut chances with England’s backline and midfield, which saw natural defender Lucy Bronze surprisingly start on the left flank, keep the likes of Camille Abily, Le Sommer and Louisa Nécib relatively quiet throughout.
Philippe Bergeroo’s side proved though why they are ranked third in the world as after a spell of pressure they got their noses in front.
Laura Bassett and Katie Chapman lost the ball to Gaëtane Thiney in the middle of the park and the ball found its way to Le Sommer who thumped home her 45th international goal, via the finger tips of Bardsley.
The French went close on a couple of more occasions before half-time, but after the restart England looked more relaxed and competitive all over the park.
However, following Jill Scott’s clever flick from a corner, which comfortably found the hands of France ‘keeper Sarah Bouhaddi, Mark Sampson’s side found it difficult to carve out any chances, with Eni Aluko, tireless in her running, often left isolated up top.
The Chelsea forward did have a half chance late on though when the ball fell nicely to her outside the area, but England’s top scorer in qualifying could only drag her shot high and wide of the target.
Substitute Frank Kirby then also nearly broke clear deep into injury time, but the stern, talented French backline recovered and stood firm to see out the 1-0 win.
Sampson and his side’s next test in Group F should prove easier when they face Mexico, ranked 25th, on Saturday, but they’ll know another slip up could see them suffer the same fate as the men’s side 12 months ago.