England Women’s boss Mark Sampson insists the nation’s football supporters should relish having a side capable of winning international silverware after the Lionesses beat France to reach the semi-finals of the European Championship.
Jodie Taylor netted her fifth goal of the competition as England claimed their first victory over Les Bleus, who had beaten them in three successive tournaments dating back to the 2011 World Cup, in 43 years.
Success over the only remaining team ranked above them set up a last-four showdown with hosts Holland in Enschede on Thursday. Holland had earlier beaten holders Germany 2-1.
“We have excited the English public,” said Sampson. “It has been a long time since the country had a team they can believe in in terms of winning a major tournament, so we’re pleased.
“But there are four fantastic teams left in the competition. Now we have to make that step and get into our first final together.
“We were at our very best because we had to play at that level as France are an outstanding team. We had to dig deep tonight. It’s not often England win quarter-finals and this group have now got two under their belt in the space of just two years.”
Sampson has already created his own piece of history by becoming the first England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey in 1968 to reach consecutive semi-finals at a major tournament after guiding the Lionesses to third place at the 2015 World Cup.
Striker Taylor, who is on course to claim the Golden Boot, settled matters on the hour mark when she fired home right-footed after being picked out by the rampaging Lucy Bronze.
England coped with losing goalkeeper Karen Bardsley – she was replaced by Siobhan Chamberlain – and navigated a number of nervy goalmouth scrambles to take their place in the competition’s last four.