A gritty performance in Saint-Etienne this evening saw England bounce back from defeat and secure a crucial 2-1 win over France to bolster their EURO 2025 qualification hopes.

Despite Grace Geyore’s 72nd-minute penalty, Georgia Stanway and Alessia Russo’s first half goals were enough to secure the Lionesses’ victory, marking their first away win over Les Blues in 51 years.

The first 45 minutes were a showcase of some of England’s best attacking talent, and France, though dangerous on the counter attack, struggled to pose the same level of threat as they had in Newcastle.

After the match, England manager Sarina Wiegman told ITV Sport: “The first half, I think that’s one of the best halves we’ve ever played.

”Sometimes going behind quicker, I think we created around six huge chances to score goals so that was really good.”

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England’s intent clear from the start

Stanway’s stunning thunder-strike, assisted by Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp, powered the Lionesses in front just 21 minutes into the match.

The power of Stanway’s goal proved too much for French goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in a frustrating moment for the hosts.

England then went on to storm against France’s backline and were ruthless in their attack before the break.

Their second reward came as Russo doubled the lead in the 34th minute with a bouncing header from Hemp’s curling cross.

She had come close just minutes before with another stooping header, and certainly proved herself to be a stand-out player of the match with her impressive attacking play.

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Second-half battle

The second-half however, saw England on the receiving side of the pressure as the tide turned for France who came out with that familiar fire that we had seen in Newcastle.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani, in particular, caused several problems for the Lionesses after the restart, creating a flurry of chances.

With just under twenty minutes of regular time remaining, Diani halved her team’s deficit, putting them back in the game with a cool finish from the penalty spot.

The Lyon forward won the penalty after Leah Williamson caught her on the turn inside the box, ultimately providing France with the chance to shift the momentum.

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Despite relentless attack from Hervé Renard’s side, desperate for an equaliser, England managed to hold out and maintain their well-earned lead from the first half.

France had one final chance in the 89th minute, but an outstanding save from Lionesses’ keeper Hannah Hampton denied Katoto low in the bottom corner.

France will undoubtedly be disappointed with the reversed scoreline, especially after their emphatic performance on Friday evening.

However, they still remain top of group A3 with nine points from their four games.

Thanks to their win tonight, England now move up to second in the group with seven points, ahead of Sweden on goal difference.

The qualifying campaign will continue in July with two final group games for each side.

Featured image courtesy of Chabe01 via Wikimedia Commons. No changes were made to this image. License details found here.

By Emilie Mwanza

Founder of LG Women's Football. Trainee multimedia journalist