Euro 2025 qualifying: France leave England with tough hill to climb

Leah Williamson of England looks dejected during the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
Leah Williamson of England looks dejected during the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France at St James' Park (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

England have a lot of work to do following their defeat to France if they want to avoid the Euro 2025 play-offs later this year. The reigning champions have slipped to third in Group A3 with four points on the board, five behind Les Bleues.

Following on from their two-goal victory over Ireland, the Lionesses welcomed France to St James’ Park. The two sides last met in April 2021, where France pulled off a comfortable 3-1 victory.

The match also marked Sarina Wiegman’s 50th game in charge of England, with the head coach taking charge almost three years ago.

Starting XIs

England

Earps; Bronze, Carter, Walsh, Bright, Williamson (c), Mead, Stanway, Russo, Toone, Hemp

France

Peyraud-Magnin; Lakrar, Renard (c), De Almeida, Karchaoui, Katoto, Diani, Bacha, Toletti, Dali, D Cascarino

How it went

An unconvincing start from England saw several early chances for France. England’s woes were further compiled when an injury for Mary Earps led to an early substitution, with Hannah Hampton replacing the Lionesses No.1.

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Beth Mead opened up the scoring for England in the 30th minute with a well-worked finish. The goal came after numerous half-chances for the hosts, with the Arsenal forward finally turning the ball home. Despite holding the lead, England were unable to gain a real foothold in the game.

Elisa De Almeida restored the deadlock shortly before the break to send the two sides into the break level. France arguably had the better first half and deserved the equaliser.

A late winner from Marie-Antoinette Katoto handed Les Bleues all three points after a difficult night for England. The PSG star capitalised on a failed clearance from the hosts to keep France top of Group A3. England will now look to their final three qualification games as they hope to guarantee their progression in the competition and defend their crown.

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This defeat comes during a difficult run of form for the Lionesses. Defeats to Belgium, the Netherlands and France have followed England’s World Cup final heartbreak against Spain.

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