France Women 3, England Women 1
England Women were beaten in Caen by a weakened France side after they failed to make the most of their chances.Embed from Getty Images
Goals by Sandy Baltimore and Viviane Asseyi put France in control but both sides hit the woodwork before Fran Kirby’s late penalty gave England hope which was quickly extinguished when the French finished them off three minutes later through a Marie-Antoinette Katoto tap-in.
COVID had depleted France of half of their regular starters but their second string produced a fine performance after England failed to take their chances and defensive errors allowed their hosts to score.
England were missing their own important players in defence – Manchester City defensive duo Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze were injured, which disrupted England who had an Ellen White goal ruled out for offside and had great chances by Nikita Parris and Beth Mead saved by Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.
After a minute of silence to mark the passing of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the age of 99 the game got underway.
French forward Sandy Baltimore was dangerous from the start, seeing a cross headed behind before Millie Bright deflected a shot wide of the post as the French pushed up from the start.
Beth Mead’s early shot was tame and the Arsenal player was soon in the book as she tried hard to make the most of her call up after being omitted for the game against Northern Ireland.
Kadidiatou Diani volleyed the loose ball over the bar after Ellie Roebuck came off her line and failed to get to a French cross.
And Parris forced two corners as Pauline Peyraud-Magnin tipped away her first shot from a French mistake to prevent the Lyon player from opening the scoring for England.
Roebuck failed to get onto another Baltimore ball into the box but tipped away another strike by the French winger who had switched flanks before diving onto another ball in the box before Gauvin could get to it.
Beth Mead crossed for Ellen White to convert but it was ruled out for offside in the build-up
And France quickly took the lead through Baltimore after the French counter attacked with Diani cutting it back for her team mate after outpacing Alex Greenwood and beating her to a ball over the top.
Fran Kirby’s first time shot was tipped away by Peyraud-Magnin after a cutback from the right by Parris.
And Parris forced another fine save from the French goalkeeper who used her legs to keep out a snap shot from the winger after Kirby’s shot was deflected into her path.
Diani crossed again and Marie-Antoinette Katoto headed into the arms of Roebuck who was lucky to see Everton’s Valery Gauvin blaze over when the French had an injury time chance to double their lead with a left wing cross from Baltimore.
Parris headed wide in added time after she couldn’t direct a header on target after an excellent ball into her from midfield.
England defence fails to contain lively France
Chloe Kelly and Niamh Charles were brought on at the break for Parris and Greenwood.
And Daly fired over after Kirby slipped her though.
Roebuck made another great save to deny Katoto after Baltimore but her through again on the hour mark after a flurry of changes.
But seconds later Daly gave away a penalty after 62 minutes after Diani’s shot came back off the bar and the England defender collided with De Almeida who was coming in for the rebound.
Viviane Asseyi was one of the French changes earlier and she stepped up to slot calmly past Roebuck who went the wrong way.
Exciting Manchester City winger Lauren Hemp, on as a sub, forced Marion Torrent to concede a penalty which Fran Kirby hit past Peyraud-Magnin with 11 minutes to go.
It was the first goal that the French keeper had ever conceded for the national team in her 13th game.
Sensing a chance to level the scores, Jordan Nobbs tried a long rage effort which was saved while Keira Walsh rattled the back post after receiving a cut back from Hemp at the touch line.
But hope was quickly ended when Katoto was given plenty of space to tap in from 3 yards out after after Diani skipped past Wubben-Moy and drove in a cross into the six yard box.
GOALS – France Women 3, England Women 1
France 1, England 0: 32. Sandy Baltimore tucked away a cutback by Kadidiatou Diani who had beaten Alex Greenwood to a ball over the top with her pace and cut the ball back for her equally quick team mate who picked her spot inside the top corner.
France 2, England 0: 63. Viviane Asseyi sent Ellie Roebuck the wrong way from the penalty spot after Rachel Daly was penalised for colliding with Elisa De Almeida who was trying to reach the rebound after Kadidiatou Diani had hit the crossbar with a fierce shot.
France 2, England 1: 79. Fran Kirby cooly converted a penalty of her own after Lauren Hemp was brought down by a tired challenge from Marion Torrent.
France 3, England 1: 82. Marie-Antoinette Katoto was given a simple tap in from 3 yards out after great skill by Kadidiatou Diani to skip past Lotte Wubben-Moy before sliding a cross into her team mate.
MATCH STATS – France Women 3, England Women 1
France: Peyraud-Magnin, Torrent (C) (Perisset 85), Tounkara, De Almeida, Morroni, Diani (Dali 85), Geyoro, Palis (Jaurena 60), Baltimore, Katoto, Gauvin (Asseyi 59)
France subs not used: Durand, Picaud, Deslandes, Fleury, Kazadi, Jean-Francois, Khelifi, Le Sommer, Thibaud
Bookings: Palis 58 (foul on Jill Scott); Torrent 77 (foul on Lauren Hemp)
Goals: Baltimore 32; Asseyi pen 63; Katoto 82
England: Roebuck, Daly, Bright, Williamson (Wubben-Moy 64), Greenwood (Charles 46), Walsh, Scott (Nobbs 73), Kirby, Mead (Hemp 64), Parris (Kelly 46), White (England 74)
England subs not used: MacIver, Telford, Bardsley, Turner, Toone, Stanway, Morgan
Booking: Mead 18 (foul on Marion Torrent); Daly 90 (foul on Viviane Asseyi)
Goal: Kirby 79 pen
Referee: Sara Persson