In Review

England ask fans to 'stick with us' after World Cup defeat

Opening match of the Women's World Cup in Canada ends in defeat to France

France 1 England 0. England's opening match of the Women's World Cup failed to provide much of a spectacle, with the main talking points a single first-half goal from French forward Eugenie Le Sommer and an elbow in the face of an England defender from Camille Abily which went unpunished by the referee.

England have not beaten France in the women's game for 40 years and set out to thwart the tournament favourites in front of a sparse crowd in Moncton. The plan worked for most of the match, but Le Sommer's long range strike proved to be the key moment of the match as both sides struggled to carve out clear cut chances in difficult conditions.

"There was rain. There was wind. The pitch was artificial and there was little to entertain either keen fans or the curious, but at least England emerged from their opening match of the World Cup with credit," writes Alyson Rudd in The Times. "Mark Sampson's side were not embarrassed and they were not naive."

But England's determination not to be embarrassed at the back had consequences elsewhere, despite Sampson's efforts to put a positive spin on the result.

"England only had three shots all game – with just one on target – but even that statistic refused to dampen the optimism of a coach who replaced a frequently bold approach with containment tactics and a 4-1-4-1 system," says Louise Taylor of The Guardian.

He was upbeat ahead of England's "all-important" games against Mexico and Colombia, says Taylor, but she acknowledges that the spectacle may not have done much for the tournament.

Sampson, she notes, "appealed for possibly underwhelmed English television audiences to 'stick with us', pointing out that England were never out of the game".

Of course there was plenty of opportunity for recrimination, just as there is after the men's team underperforms at World Cups. "There might have been a different end story had referee Thalia Mitsi spotted an apparently intentional elbow from Camille Abily on Laura Bassett with 20 minutes to go," opines BT Sport.

"Despite the loss England still stand a strong chance of reaching the last 16. Rated the world's sixth best team by Fifa, in their remaining group games they face 25th-ranked Mexico on Saturday and 28th-ranked Colombia next Wednesday, and would expect to beat both."

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