England women’s team manager Mark Sampson was proud of his “history makers” - including Dinnington’s Jade Moore - after guiding them to the World Cup semi-finals in Canada.
Quickfire first-half goals from Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze lifted England to a 2-1 win over the tournament hosts to set up a last four clash against defending champions Japan on Wednesday.
Canada’s star striker Christine Sinclair pulled one back shortly before half-time, following a rare blunder by goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, but England had an impressive rearguard after the interval and never really seemed in danger of conceding again at a packed out BC Place in Vancouver.
Moore, a former Doncaster Belles player, was booked in the 63rd minute.
But it was another milestone for a team who won their first knockout game in World Cup history against Norway in the last-16 and Sampson was delighted to join the men’s teams of 1966 and 1990 in making the semi-finals on the very biggest stage.
“To get a result in that atmosphere today against an excellent Canadian team is an incredible performance, and incredible result,” he said.
“The crowd were unbelievable. I’ve never been in a stadium as loud, as passionate for their team as that was and the Canadian team left everything on the pitch, they couldn’t have pushed us any further, we had to really, really dig deep today to get the result we wanted so I’m really proud of my team.
“I’m also really proud of women’s football today, I think it was an unbelievable occasion, a sell-out crowd, everyone loving their team, supporting their team but, again, incredibly proud of the players.
“They’re history makers again, only the third ever England team to get to a semi-final. We’ve now joined that ‘66 and 1990 club.
“I was very, very proud of the whole group.”
The Lionesses began their campaign with a disappointing defeat to France but bounced back with wins against Mexico and Colombia before overcoming Norway and Sampson hailed his team’s battling spirit.
“That’s our big moment of the tournament, the way the players bounced back from that defeat,” he said. “There’s so many teams that would have struggled with that and doubted themselves but this team stayed strong, they stayed together, they stuck to the plan and now we find ourselves in a World Cup semi-final.
“So the team know now that they’ll need to dig deep and really do that again against an excellent Japan team. They’ll go there. They’ll go as deep as they need to go to keep this team in this tournament.”
He added: “At this stage of the tournament, in any stage of this tournament with the quality of the teams here, I’m not sure we are the underdogs.
“Every game is a game where it’s the team who delivers the best on the field and finds a way to get themselves through so we’re delighted to still be here.
“This team has shown incredible resilience, incredible character and togetherness to still be in this tournament.
“If you look at our results and our performances, we’ve been dominated against an excellent French team, been right in the game up until the last minute, we’ve played well and dominated a strong Mexico and Colombian team.
“And then these two games have been about grinding out results, about staying in the tournament and the players have done that.
“They’ve shown their quality with the ball, they’ve shown their quality with defensive structure and they’ve shown a desire that I’ve never seen from an England team before to hang on in there and get this team through to the next round.”
England were forced into a substitution early into the second half when Siobhan Chamberlain was thrown into the action after Bardsley appeared to sustain an eye injury.
Sampson revealed he suspected that was caused by an allergic reaction and admitted it was “difficult to say” whether she would be fit for the Wednesday’s semi-final.
“I think she’s had an allergic reaction to something, I don’t know, so her eye has really puffed up in the second half and that’s got to the stage where she couldn’t see out of that eye,” he said.
“So we clearly had to make a change and that moment in the game epitomised what this team is about.
“We’ve got two goalkeepers who every day have trained incredibly hard knowing they wouldn’t start but they’ve waited for that moment and when that moment came, with Siobhan Chamberlain, I had absolutely no doubt in my mind, nor did any of the players, that she would just step up.
“She just casually put her gloves on, walked on the field and stopped the ball going in the goal. I think that’s the story of this team so far, it’s that everyone’s played a part when needed, from the side, on the field.
“Delighted for Siobhan. She’s a real special character, an important payer in this group and has shown what an excellent goalkeeper she is today as well.”
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 12 Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), 5 Steph Houghton (captain; Manchester City), 6 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 3 Claire Rafferty (Chelsea); 11 Jade Moore (Birmingham City), 4 Fara Williams (Liverpool); 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 16 Katie Chapman (Chelsea), 10 Karen Carney (Birmingham City); 19 Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns).
Substitutes: 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal) for Bardsley 52, 23 Ellen White (Notts County) for Williams 79, 15 Casey Stoney (Arsenal) for Carney 90+3
Substitutes not used: 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal), 7 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), 9 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), 14 Alex Greenwood (Notts County), 17 Jo Potter (Birmingham City), 18 Toni Duggan (Manchester City), 20 Lianne Sanderson (Arsenal), 21 Carly Telford (Notts County), 22 Fran Kirby (Reading).