Jodie Taylor was again on target as England defied decades of history to reach the Women’s Euro 2017 semi-finals with a victory over France in Deventer.
The result ended a winless run over France that stretched back to 1974, when England defeated Les Bleues 2-0 in a friendly in Wimbledon, and they will face tournament hosts Holland on Thursday for a place in Sunday’s final in Enschede.
Taylor slid the ball past Sarah Bouhaddi for her fifth goal of the tournament in the 60th minute to put England through, with the suspension of Jill Scott for the next round being the only disappointment for manager Mark Sampson.
The result came hours after pre-tournament favourites Germany were knocked out by Denmark, suffering a shock 2-1 defeat that means they cannot land a seventh consecutive European title.
Sampson named the same starting line-up that began the first two group matches against Scotland and Spain as he looked to extend England’s 100 per cent record.
Fran Kirby was the only England player to not start in the most recent clash between the two sides – a 2-1 defeat in the SheBelieves Cup in March – while France captain Wendie Renard was missing due to suspension.
Taylor had the first sight at goal after five minutes when a Jordan Nobbs cross was only half-cleared by the France defence but the Arsenal forward could not keep her effort from ballooning over the crossbar.
Despite a bright start by England, France began to grow into the match with playmaker Camille Abily looking to exploit the spaces behind full-backs Lucy Bronze and Demi Stokes.
The Lyon midfielder created two chances in as many minutes, firstly when a slide-rule pass found Kadidiatou Diani behind the Lionesses defence and the recovering Jade Moore dispossessed the left winger as she was about to strike at goal. Then Marie-Laure Delie latched on to another through-ball from the 32-year-old but dragged her effort wide.
Millie Bright threatened Bouhaddi in the France goal after Nobbs picked out the Chelsea centre-back at the far post with a in-swinging free-kick, but she could only head wide.
Both sides struggled to make full use of the ball, and England suffered a blow when Scott picked up the yellow card which rules her out of the last-four clash with Holland for a late challenge on Amandine Henry.
France striker Delie then warmed the hands of goalkeeper Karen Bardsley with a deflected effort from the edge of the area with the match’s first shot on target, but the strike proved too tame for the Manchester City goalkeeper as the first half ended goalless.
The opening exchanges of the second half continued in the same vein with both sides cancelling each other out before Jessica Houara-d’Hommeaux’s far-post cross picked out Eugenie Le Sommer, but she could not get her header on target.
The deadlock was eventually broken on the hour mark after Lucy Bronze dispossessed Le Sommer in the centre of the pitch before threading a ball through for Taylor, who produced a composed finish to clip the ball beyond Bouhaddi.
It sparked an immediate response from France with Diani going close with a shot from the edge of the area which Bronze had to head over the crossbar, before an Abily cross was not dealt with by goalkeeper Bardsley, who recovered to hold on to Delie’s near-post effort.
Substitute Elodie Thomis caused instant problems on the right wing and evaded Bright’s challenge in the penalty area to cut back to Delie, but her pass was crucially intercepted by England captain Steph Houghton.
Bardsley was replaced by Siobhan Chamberlain due to a leg knock and the incoming goalkeeper failed to deal with a cross with her first touch as the ball fell at the feet of Thomis, but the Lyon winger flashed her volley wide.
Laura Georges, Henry, substitute Claire Lavogez and Clarisse Le Bihan all spurned great chances for France as England held on.