England cruised into a second consecutive Women’s World Cup semi-final courtesy of a dominant 3-0 win over Norway on Thursday.
After the unsavoury narrative surrounding England’s ill-tempered last-16 win over Cameroon, the focus was back on football in the quarter-finals and, with defenders Steph Houghton and Millie Bright fit to start, Phil Neville’s side controlled proceedings.
Jill Scott netted in a third different World Cup to put the Lionesses ahead, before Ellen White scored her sixth finals goal – the most ever for an England player – and fifth of this tournament.
The irrepressible Lucy Bronze added a brilliant third and England were able to take their foot off the pedal for the final 30 minutes, running out comfortable winners even with Nikita Parris missing a late penalty.
England were beaten by Japan in the last four in 2015 but will have the opportunity to improve on that performance against either hosts France or defending champions the United States.
It was a flying start for England, who recorded their fastest ever Women’s World Cup goal, timed at two minutes and six seconds.
Bronze stormed down the right and pulled the ball back from the byline for Scott to prod in off the left-hand post after White initially missed her kick.
Parris should have done better as she shanked wide after working space on her left foot in the area, before White crashed a powerful strike against the post from a similarly promising position.
The two made amends five minutes before the break, though, as Parris squared for White – compared by Neville to Alan Shearer and Michael Owen – to tap into the net.
And a slow start to the second half was quickly forgotten when Bronze powered into the roof of the net from 20 yards following a right-wing Beth Mead free-kick in the 57th minute.
Houghton cleared off the goal line from Lisa-Marie Utland in a brief England blip, while Karen Bardsley denied Isabell Herlovsen, but Neville’s side could have had a fourth.
Captain Houghton was shoved to the ground in the area by Maria Thorisdottir and Parris took the spot-kick, only for Ingrid Hjelmseth to save well and limit the damage for Norway.
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