Chelsea trio start but England made to pay for mistakes as they fall to French defeat in opening game of World Cup

France 1-0 England

Chelsea’s Claire Rafferty, Eniola Aluko and Katie Chapman all started as England’s World Cup campaign began with defeat against France in Moncton.

French striker Eugenie Le Sommer capitalised on sloppy passing just before the half hour mark to extend England’s winless run against the French to 16 games stretching back to 1974.

England had just one shot on target, Jill Scott’s half volley that was easily saved by Sarah Bouhaddi, while Aluko shot over late on.

Defeat means the Lionesses will likely finish second in a group that also contains Mexico and Colombia, meaning an expected second round tie with Norway.

England manager Mark Sampson named a defensive side to try and nullify France and it worked for the first 20 minutes, but then the French started to dominate.

Le Sommer had a volley deflected wide and Karen Bardsley saved easily from Gaetane Thiney before the deadlock was broken.

Thiney pounced on a mistake by Laura Bassett and Chapman and Le Sommer turned and shot past Bardsley from the edge of the box.

England’s only first-half chance came when Chapman lobbed well wide from the edge of the box, while Rafferty was lucky not to give away a penalty for a late tackle on Jessica Houara.

England looked brighter going forward after the break but struggled to break through the dominant centre back pairing of Wendie Renard and Laura Georges, with Scott’s volley their only real chance of note.

Fran Kirby and Toni Duggan came on to give England more firepower but they failed to make an impact, with Aluko’s shot, which sailed well over the top, the closest they came as France easily held on.

They next face Mexico at 9pm on Saturday in Moncton.

Feature image of Eniola Aluko courtesy of BBC, with thanks

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