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France downs England on PKs to reach semifinals

Jul 9, 2011 - 9:55 PM Leverkusen, Germany (Sports Network) - France reached its first-ever semifinal at the Women's World Cup on Saturday as Elise Bussaglia scored in the 88th minute and France downed England in a penalty kick shootout, 4-3.

Jill Scott put England in front against the run of play in the 59th minute, but Bussaglia kept the French alive with a goal two minutes from time.

The match eventually ended up in penalty kicks, and after Camille Abily's shot was saved to begin the shootout, the French scored four successive times, with England's Claire Rafferty and Faye White both missing.

France will now face the winner of Sunday's quarterfinal between Brazil and the United States on July 13.

"In the end, I thought that it was the correct result overall, because England didn't manage to create that many chances," Abily said. "I've got no preference about whether we play Brazil or United States; the most important thing for us is that we won't be watching their game tomorrow from back home in France."

England almost got off to a dream start as Kelly Smith rounded goalkeeper Celine Deville but had her shot toward the empty net blocked by defender Laura Georges.

But from there France was the better side with both Gaetane Thiney and Louisa Necib going close for France.

Marie-Laure Delie came within inches of putting France in front early in the second half, but it was England that grabbed the lead when Rachel Yankey's ball up the left wing allowed Scott to get to the edge of the penalty area and send a dipping shot over the head of Deville.

England tried to desperately hold onto its lead as substitute Elodie Thomis forced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley to make a pair of saves before the breakthrough finally arrived in the 88th minute.

A cross into the England penalty area was only cleared as far as Bussaglia 20 yards from goal, and she curled a shot off the left post and into the net.

"It was a tough match and we had some really tired legs out there today," said England coach Hope Powell. "We thought we had a good chance when it went to penalties, as we'd worked on that particular aspect in training. I'd like to applaud France, who never gave up and kept at us right until the end."

Neither side was able to generate many good chances in extra time as both teams were visibly tired. But after Abily's shot was saved by Bardsley, the French buried their next four attempts.

England, meanwhile, saw Rafferty miss the net while Faye White, who had to convert her kick to keep England alive, struck the crossbar.

"I think I aged 10 years when they scored against us, and 10 more when one of our penalties was saved," France coach Bruno Bini said. "But thankfully winning the match took 22 years off me. There are two good pieces of news for us tonight: we don't have to pack our bags, so we can stay in the same hotel, and we've now got two big matches ahead of us, whatever happens."