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Bronze going for gold but England must cut error count | UK News

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Hail a true superstar.

“Best player in the world,” said the England manager Phil Neville.

And when Lucy Bronze lashed in England’s clinching third goal from 20 yards, the look of approval from the watching David Beckham spoke volumes.

Think Jessica Ennis-Hill, Kelly Holmes, Virginia Wade, Mary Peters.

Lucy Bronze of England celebrates with teammates after scoring her team's third goal during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarter Final match between Norway and England at Stade Oceane on June 27, 2019 in Le Havre, France
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England players celebrate after scoring their third goal against Norway

The Berwick-born 27-year-old could have been eligible for Scotland or Portugal because of various relatives; we should be relieved she stuck with England.

From right-back, Bronze laid on the crucial early goal for Jill Scott that left Norway’s pre-match planning in tatters, and was a key part of the build-up to Ellen White’s second.

And now Bronze eyes her second World Cup semi-final in Lyon, in the stadium where she plays her club football in the French League for the European Champions.

The opponents – either hosts France or world champions the USA – will provide a stiffer test than Norway.

England will again rely defensively on Bronze, backed by their outstanding California-born goalkeeper Karen Bardsley – possibly against the country of her birth – and inspirational captain Steph Houghton.

England's forward Ellen White celebrates after scoring a goal during the France 2019 Women's World Cup quarter-final football match between Norway and England, on June 27, 2019, at the Oceane stadium in Le Havre, north western France. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
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White is joint top-scorer in the tournament with five goals

And whether it’s the USA or France, the opposition will be wary of White, now joint top-scorer in the tournament with five goals.

Norway had been confident, but England were consistently more positive and more threatening, despite the possession being equally shared.

And England’s fitness and discipline were first-class, reflecting the professionalism of the domestic game.

The FA have devoted time and money to it. When Bronze’s goal bulged the Norway net, Beckham exchanged high fives with Baroness Sue Campbell, the association’s head of women’s football, whose championing of Neville seems pretty smart now.

However, this is where England are meant to be. Ranked third in the world, they have duly reached the semi-finals.

They’ve done it for the most part impressively, scoring 11 goals and conceding one.

Now, in front of a sell-out crowd of almost 60,000, plus what’s likely to be Britain’s biggest TV audience for any women’s team sporting event, they also have to cut the error count.

Neville knows they can’t keep missing penalties (Nikita Parris did it for the second time in this World Cup against Norway) or giving the ball away close to their own goal (Bardsley and Houghton just about got them out of trouble).

But they have it in them to go a stage further than Gareth Southgate’s men did in Russia last summer.

England finished third in the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

This time Lucy Bronze wants not bronze, but gold.

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