Chester, Pa. – Sprung from the bench in the second half French captain Wendie Renard proved a match winner when her header in the 90th minute broke English hearts in the opening match of the SheBelieves Cup.
Moments after the game Renard was nonplussed as she described her heroics with the help of a translator. “I’m happy to score because it was the last occasion for us to score,” the French captain said cooly, adding, “so I’m very happy for the team and I am happy for me too.”
Renard, the tallest player on the field had come close moments earlier only to head over the lathe but when France earned a late, late corner kick the captain was not to be denied.
England will kick themselves for not providing a bigger cushion than 1-0 after a dominant first half display, although Les Bleues keeper Sarah Bouhaddi deserves a share of the credit for that.
Standing at a sun dappled Lincoln Financial Field Tuesday afternoon England coach Mark Sampson had told a small group of reporters that his team would need a fast start against France if they were to end a long winless streak against their old rivals.
Wednesday night as Sampson stood beneath the Talen Energy Field stands trying to explain what went wrong GotSoccer asked the English boss why his team had been unable to build on that promising beginning.
Not in any mood to mince words Sampson said, “we started the second half really poorly. We know how we want to play in the first period of games, first and second half, and in the first key moments of the second half, other than the kickoff, we didn’t execute.”
Clearly aggravated Sampson continued, “we made some poor errors, technically and some poor decisions,” and Sampson said, “like I said earlier I made some poor decisions.”
In that good English first half Jordan Nobbs gave England a 1-0 lead over their fierce rivals with a 32nd minute long distance laser. It might have been more but for Bouhaddi and when the second half began it was a whole new ballgame.
France was as good after the re-start as England was bad and with blue wave after blue wave washing over Karen Bardsley’s goalmouth a French goal began to seem an inevitability.
That inevitability was finally realized when Marie-Laure headed home the equalizer, setting the stage for a frantic finish and yet another frustrating loss to Les Bleues.