Euro 2020: Ranking England’s last four semi-final appearances at major tournaments


England are set to contest their fifth major tournament semi-final in six years this evening. They will take on Denmark for a place in the final of Euro 2020.

The Lionesses first set the standard in 2015 when they booked a place in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup. They followed this up with a Euro 2017 semi-final, before their male counterparts reached the final four at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. England Women then reached their third successive semi-final at the 2019 World Cup in France.

GiveMeSport Women looks back at these performances. 

Lionesses at 2015 World Cup

The 2015 World Cup in Canada marked a fresh start for the Lionesses, who had failed miserably at Euro 2013 under long-standing manager Hope Powell. Mark Sampson was appointed to replace Powell and begin the rebuilding process.

England began the tournament with a 1-0 defeat to France, but soon bounced back with 2-1 victories over Mexico and Colombia in the group stage.

Tough opponents Norway awaited in the round of 16, but the Lionesses came back from being one goal down to triumph 2-1 yet again. Next up was hosts Canada, who had the full force of the TD Place Stadium in Ottawa behind them. Despite the hostile atmosphere, England managed to eke out another 2-1 result.


The Lionesses came up against defending champions Japan in the semi-finals. Aya Miyama converted a penalty in the 30th minute for Japan, but England soon had their own penalty scored by Fara Williams at the other end of the pitch.

With the score at 1-1 and just seconds remaining until full time, one of the most devastating moments in English footballing history occurred. Defender Laura Bassett attempted to clear a looping ball which had been knocked into England’s penalty box, but accidentally hit the ball off the crossbar and over the line, essentially putting her own team out of the tournament.

Incredibly, the Lionesses managed to overcome this catastrophic goal to clinch the bronze medal at the tournament. Williams scored a penalty in extra-time against Germany to help England win the third-place playoff.

Lionesses at Euro 2017

The Lionesses had a lot to prove at the 2017 European Championship. They seriously struggled at Euro 2013, finishing bottom of a group comprising France, Spain and Russia.

With Powell gone and Sampson now at the helm, England looked a much improved side at Euro 2017. They thrashed Scotland 6-0 in their opening game, before defeating Spain 2-0 and Portugal 2-1.

Once in the quarter-finals, the Lionesses dealt a knockout blow to arch rivals France, beating Les Bleus 1-0. A semi-final clash against hosts Netherlands loomed.


Despite English confidence heading into the semi-final, the visiting team were comfortably defeated 3-0. Vivianne Miedema is now extremely well known in England as Arsenal’s star striker, but her goal against the Lionesses in the 22nd minute of the semi-final may have been the first time English football fans heard her name.

Daniëlle van de Donk, who was already at the Gunners at the time, doubled the Dutch lead in the 62nd minute. Millie Bright then compounded England’s misery with an own goal just minutes from full-time.

If it was any consolation to the Lionesses, the Netherlands went on to win the tournament by overcoming Denmark 4-2 in the final.

England at 2018 World Cup

One year later, and England fans already had another semi-final to look forward to. The men’s side booked a place in the last four of the 2018 World Cup.

England did not get off to the best start in the group stage, just about getting past Tunisia 2-1 after Harry Kane scored the winner in the dying minutes of the game. Their next result – a 6-1 thumping of Panama – was more emphatic.

With the side already through to the knockout stages, their 1-0 loss to Belgium was not deemed to be disastrous.


England finally rid themselves of their penalty demons in the round of 16, defeating Colombia in the shootout after a 1-1 draw. They got past Sweden 2-0 in the quarter-finals, setting up a semi-final clash with Croatia.

To the joy of the entire country, England went 1-0 up in the opening five minutes after Kieran Trippier scored a stunning free-kick. Their ecstasy was not to last, however, with Ivan Perišić equalising in the 68th minute.

Neither team was able to find a winner before the final whistle, taking the match to extra time. It was during this period that Mario Mandžukić broke English hearts, putting Croatia 2-1 up with just 10 minutes to play.

England were unable to find an answer and crashed out of the tournament. They eventually finished fourth, losing 2-0 to Belgium in the clash for third place. 

Lionesses at 2019 World Cup

England fans were well used to their side reaching the semi-finals of major tournaments by 2019, and the Lionesses lived up to expectations at the Women’s World Cup in France.

The team started the campaign with a 2-1 result over Scotland, followed by a 1-0 victory over Argentina and 2-0 win over Japan. They comfortably beat Cameroon 3-0 in the round of 16, before impressing with a 3-0 triumph over Norway in the quarter-finals.

The Lionesses had their hardest challenge yet in the semi-finals. They faced the United States, four-time World Cup winners and four-time Olympic champions. Defeating the Americans is no mean feat, but England gave it a good go.


Christen Press put the US 1-0 up in the opening 10 minutes, but Ellen White responded for England in the 19th minute. Her equaliser was short lived, however, with Alex Morgan getting the defending champions back in front in the 31st minute.

White did manage to equalise yet again, but her goal was ruled offside. Captain Steph Houghton also missed a late penalty, with the US progressing to the final and eventually winning the tournament.

The Lionesses had to make do with fourth-place after failing to beat Sweden in the third-place playoff.

Can England finally go one better and reach the Euro 2020 final this evening?

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