Bronze gives England golden triumph

LUCY BRONZE was ecstatic that she had finally listened to training-ground prompts after smashing home the goal that sent England through to the quarter-finals of the women’s World Cup.

Golden girls: From left, England's Lucy Bronze, Fara Williams, Jade Moore, Steph Houghton and Laura Bassett celebrate after defeating Norway. Picture: AP

The roaming right-back secured the Lionesses’ first knockout victory at a World Cup by rifling the ball into the roof of the Norwegian net to make it 2-1 after captain Steph Houghton had cancelled out Solveig Gulbrandsen’s header with one of her own.

England must prepare to face tournament hosts Canada in Vancouver, and match-winner Bronze is already thinking about the next challenge.

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The 23-year-old Manchester City defender said: “What a terrific game that’s going to be. We saw yesterday (when Canada beat Switzerland at BC Place) that it was a sold-out crowd and now we can look forward to that and put this game to bed.

“I guess scoring the goal is a bit of history but it was a team effort and it was a very tough game to play in. I’m ecstatic that we’ve won.”

When asked about her 76th-minute strike, which was unleashed from the edge of the area following a deft lay-off from substitute Jodie Taylor, she added: “I don’t even remember it!

“Everyone is saying ‘Have you watched it back?’ and I’ve said ‘no’.

“Normally I’d pass, but in training people have said ‘Why don’t you shoot when you’re on the edge of the box? Shoot, shoot, you’re always there!’ so in my head I thought ‘I’m going to shoot!’”

Coach Mark Sampson hailed his players for responding so well to Gulbrandsen’s opener, a header which arrived shortly after the restart to consummate Norway’s early dominance.

Houghton needed only seven minutes to peg the 1995 world champions back with a headed goal that found the right side of the far post from a corner, and Bronze was not far behind with her stunning decider.

“The team have made history,” said Sampson. “The team deserve all the credit in the world.

“We knew this was a big game for them and they wanted to ink their names in women’s football history and the team have stepped up and delivered for their country.

“If you concede the first goal it’s incredibly difficult to win the game.

“This group of 23 players has shown resilience, character and excellent game discipline to come back and win that match and we’ll take huge confidence from this victory.

“The objective was to get to Vancouver - we’re there now and we want this journey to continue.”