England fell to a 3-1 loss against France in Caen on Friday night, as Hege Riise suffered her first defeat as the Lionesses head coach.
Goals from Sandy Baltimore and Vivianne Asseyi gave France a 2-0 lead and though Fran Kirby scored from the spot to reduce the deficit, Marie-Antoinette Katoto then sealed a deserved win for Corinne Diacre’s side.
For a supposedly depleted French team, who were forced to contend with issues related to COVID-19 in the build-up to the game, they were the better team throughout the contest.
Indeed, the absence of Steph Houghton exposed England’s defence frailties, with the back four of Greenwood, Williamson, Bright and Daly unable to contain the impressive Baltimore.
There are questions to be answered concerning what could be considered a peculiar team selection, but several of the Lionesses still shone regardless.
Here are the three players that impressed the most:
Having been absent from the England team for what feels like a lifetime, Kirby returned to the National side hoping to carry her impressive domestic form onto the international stage.
The Chelsea forward did just that, frequently dazzling with her impressive dribbling and unwavering determination, proving to Riise that she’s one of the best players in the world right now.
Kirby was rewarded for her efforts with a goal from the penalty spot to give England a lifeline, but Katoto tapped in for France moments later to ensure the goal was in vain.
Riise stressed before the match that she planned on giving some of the youngsters minutes and Hemp well and truly took her chance when called upon.
The 20-year-old has been in scintillating form for Manchester City in recent weeks and gave England a much-needed momentum boost after replacing Beth Mead in the 65th minute.
The winger was tripped by Marion Torrent to win the spot-kick, and could well have booked herself a place on the plane to Tokyo for this summer’s Olympics.
England have plenty of competition for places in the wing department, not least with Hemp’s teammate Chloe Kelly, but on current form alone it’s Hemp who is catching the eye the most.
With 24 appearances for the Lionesses so far, this game was perhaps Walsh’s finest in England colours.
The Manchester City midfielder played the full 90 minutes and was arguably England’s best player in the first-half –– using the ball well and fashioning chances with an impressive range of passing.
The 24-year-old also hit the post late on, but ultimately proved she was a dependable option in the centre of the pitch and a mainstay of this England team moving forwards.News Now - Sport News