UEFA Women's Championship

Manager Sampson plays down favourites tag for England Women

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Mark Sampson, head coach of England gives his team instructions during the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 Quarter Final match between France and England at Stadion De Adelaarshorst on July 30, 2017 in Deventer, Netherlands.

Image credit: Getty Images

ByPA Sport
31/07/2017 at 07:19 | Updated 31/07/2017 at 10:52

England manager Mark Sampson dismissed the theory that his side are favourites to win a maiden major title after the Lionesses overcame decades of agony to reach the Women's Euro 2017 semi-finals with a 1-0 victory over France in Deventer.

Jodie Taylor scored the only goal of the match as England ended a winless run over France which stretched back to 1974, when they defeated Les Bleus 2-0 in a friendly in Wimbledon, and they will face tournament hosts Holland 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 Sampson.

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The result came hours after pre-tournament favourites Germany were also knocked out by Denmark, suffering a shock 2-1 defeat that means they cannot land a seventh consecutive European title.

The Lionesses head into their last-four encounter with the hosts as the highest-ranked team left in the competition, sat in fifth place in the world rankings, but the England boss is wary of the strength of competition and is ensuring his side guard against complacency.

He said: "This tournament has shown that the favourites haven't gone the way they had hoped so we need to be fully prepared for this semi-final.

We've excited the English public. We're very proud to have captured imaginations. It will be a huge game against the hosts. We have to find a way to compete with a big Netherlands team next, and a way to the final. We believe, but we can't just expect anything.

"There are only four [teams] left and any team here has earned the right to be there. We will do our best and try and get through to the final."

Sampson spoke in awe about the quality his quarter-final opponents possess and feels the historic victory over Olivier Echouafni's side sets a strong foundation for Thursday's semi-final clash with Leeuwinnen.

"We were at our very, very best today," the Welshman added. "Everyone showed their quality. Jodie Taylor is a very important cog in this team, the work she puts in for us is outstanding and replicates the work they all put in.

"It's a huge result for us because this is a French team that beat America to win the SheBelieves Cup. They came in as one of the favourites. It's a big result and I'm very, very proud.

"I'm incredibly proud of the players. However long that game went on we weren't going to be broken down. This is a French team who without a doubt are one of the best in the world, but we ground out another result."

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