Mo Marley’s side beat the host nation 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time. The Young Lionesses secured the medal following in the footsteps of the senior women’s team who won bronze in Canada in 2015.
The hosts began pressing early with Lyon forward Emelyne Laurent pressurizing MacIver who was forced into picking up the ball rather than playing it out from back.
A few minutes later England were awarded a free kick which Alessia Russo sent it, Anna Patten collecting the ball to drop to City’s Lauren Hemp, but the South Florida University defender was called for a debatable offside. The Young Lionesses then started to close France down with Georgia Stanway, Chloe Kelly and Hemp closing down the defenders whenever they were on the ball and leaving them unable to play the ball out from the back.
Georgia and Lauren continued to link up well as Stanway made a great run in behind the French defence before crossing the ball for Hemp, who couldn’t quite latch onto the cross.
Mollie Rouse had more of an influence than perhaps in the Japan game, the University of Louisville midfielder performing a brilliant tackle to stop Annahita Zamanian; earning a free kick. Zamanian ran the midfield riot when she played through Lyon forward Melvine Malard, captain Grace Fisk closing her down forcing the effort high.
Malard’s fellow club and international forward Emelyne Laurent, could have done a better job after some brilliant play from Sandy Baltimore, who sent a beautiful ball down the outside of Patten; the cross reaching Laurent but the nineteen year old couldn’t finish and her shot went wide.
England did not give up, especially when Hemp earned a free kick, the first effort from Stanway being cut out before the ball was cleared away, Georgia determined to win back possession before the ball went out for a throw in. France had a positive chance when Selma Bacha ran through the defence after receiving the ball from Baltimore, her effort ricocheting off Sandy MacIver’s crossbar; England’s hearts in their mouths.
Zamanian and Malard linked up well again and Laurent was able to capitalize on their partnership being played through by both players. France kept testing England’s defence but players from multiple positions were blocking their shots and leaving them with no angle’s for a clear shot on goal.
Stanway collected the ball on the counter attack and the Man City midfielder tried a shot from distance which the French keeper Justine Lerond wasn’t too bothered about and saved well.
Everton player Megan Finnigan could have been caught out a number of times when playing the ball around at the back, as Laurent was always keen to latch onto any lose ball when she felt the England defence or keeper Sandy MacIver were taking too long.
Marley’s side had another chance to go ahead when Russo made a wonderful run down the outside before crossing the ball into the box; Lauren Hemp mishitting the shot. Hemp, without the worry of being closed down like in the Japan game, was able to run circles around the French, running after the ball whenever she could and winning back possession on more than one occasion.
England were once again lucky to not go 1-0 down before the break when Laurent turned and unleashed a shot on goal; her effort going wide for a second time.
Georgia tried yet another long range effort but this shot couldn’t trouble Lerond either and soon after, the French were awarded a free kick from around 30 yards out with Bacha standing over the ball, ready to take the set piece but Laurent seemed to look confused and walked over from the wall.
This turned out to be planned as she teed up her fellow Lyon teammate, the decoy not confusing the Young Lionesses or Bacha as it seems; her effort looked to be heading in but MacIver got a hand to it.
Nearing the end of the half, Zamanian seemed to be through on goal but MacIver got herself in the way, raising her hands and taking some of the power off the shot before it unfortunately hit the former Man City youth team player in the face. The goalkeeper seemed ok and got up as the board came up to show two added minutes.
Bacha chose this time to test MacIver but her shot from range was tipped over the bar by the England goalkeeper to keep the score 0-0 at half time.
France made two half time substitutions and less than a minute after the restart, who else other than Georgia Stanway would break the deadlock, receiving the ball from Kelly and turning in the box; firing her shot in the back of the net and scoring her sixth goal of the tournament.
The opposition looked to step up their game shortly after and Bacha’s free kick was fumbled slightly by MacIver; the keeper recovering and safely holding onto the ball.
Hemp also found herself in the wars, after she had attempted to get in behind the defence, as she headed the ball down after Lerond had kicked it away; the forward receiving treatment before getting back up to continue the game.
The hosts were searching for an equaliser and would have had one earlier than they did if it wasn’t for Fisk, holding off Baltimore after a successful run of play with Malard and Bacha. England’s lead once again in jeopardy when France earned a corner, Bacha sending the ball in with Laurent’s effort hitting the post.
Lauren was trying her best to get in behind however French captain Julie Thibaud was not giving up easily, stopping the City forward and England from running away with the lead.
French substitute Amelie Delabre found herself in space and was looking to head through on goal but Megan Finnigan upended the forward in the box; the referee giving France the penalty. Emelyne Laurent was the one to step up and she scored her fourth of the tournament, waiting for MacIver to move and sending her the wrong way.
Marley made two substitutions with twenty minutes to go against Japan, however she decided against the move this time around, despite the improvement Niamh Charles and in particular Rinsola Babajide had in the semi-final. England, Stanway and Hemp were practically screaming for a change as the forwards were lacking the service they needed to make their runs as well as in the box.
Alessia Russo was screaming on the wings for the ball when Stanway took the opportunity to try and take the lead; her shot on goal being saved by Lerond. Russo seemed like a better option to those at home, a chance to take the ball wide while support arrived before sending the cross back in; but Georgia had an instinct and she acted on it.
Patten got herself into the referee’s book after a late challenge on Julie Piga, the England defender leaving her foot in and Piga tripping over; Bacha was also booked later on.
Ten minutes to go and while some minds starting drifting to penalties, Hemp decided to take a shot from the corner of the box, but it was nothing to trouble Lerond as the ball skimmed across the face of the goal; heading out for a goal kick.
A few minutes later, Stanway played a beautiful cross for Alessia, switching the ball from the left to the right for the forward, but the UNC players header was saved.
Baltimore found herself in behind Patten once more but Anna cut out the ball for a corner which Bacha took and evading everyone before Lena Goetsch collected; Mayumi Pacheco holding off the defender.
Mo made her substitution in extra time but neither Georgia Allen or Rinsola Babajide could do anything to change the score line and it was down to penalties to decide the bronze medallists.
City’s Georgia Stanway stepped up first and coolly despatched her penalty into the bottom left, sending Lerond the wrong way with Julie Thibaud scoring France’s first penalty into the roof of the net; MacIver diving to her right.
Lauren Hemp scored England’s next spot kick, Lerond not really making an effort to stop the ball rolling into the bottom right corner.
Selma Bacha was up for France and the Lyon defender had her penalty saved as she sent the ball straight at Sandy MacIver, Alessia Russo also being denied from the spot as Lerond dove to her right, Russo aiming for the bottom left and the French keeper was able to get a hand to it.
Bacha’s teammate Laurent scored for France putting her second penalty of the game past MacIver and levelling the score to two all.
Brighton and Hove Albion’s Chloe Peplow fired her penalty past Lerond, the keeper diving the right way but missing the ball which ended up in the bottom right. Amelie Delabre stepped up for France and attempted to slot the ball home past MacIver but the England goalkeeper denied FC Metz forward, diving the right way; MacIver’s celebration similar to that of Jordan Pickford’s in the men’s World Cup.
This left Georgia Allen, the Syracuse University midfielder. If she scored, England would be coming home with the bronze medal.
Allen slotted the ball under Lerond’s outstretched left arm and with a roar from the players, coaches and the travelling family, England claimed the bronze medal at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup. The following celebrations involved substitutes joining the rest of the players on the pitch and Sandy MacIver being lost under her smiling teammates.
England ended the tournament with a bronze, Spain finishing second behind the winners Japan with the final result of 3-1.
Stanway picked up the Adidas Silver Boot, Japan’s Saori Takarada the bronze and Spain’s Patricia Guijarro claiming the Golden Boot. Guijarro also won the Adidas Golden Ball, with Takarada second and teammates and Japan captain Moeka Minami third.
Sandy MacIver picked up the golden glove and joins a host of players such as Mylène Chavas, Laura Benkarth, Bianca Henninger and Alyssa Naeher in winning the award.
Sandy MacIver, Anna Patten, Mayumi Pacheco, Mollie Rouse (Georgia Allen 90+1’), Grace Fisk ©, Megan Finnigan, Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp, Georgia Stanway, Chloe Peplow and Chloe Kelly (Rinsola Babajide 90+1’).
Subs (not used): Ellie Roebuck, Emily Ramsey, Niamh Charles, Ali Johnson, Esme Morgan, Taylor Hinds, Charlie Wellings and Zoe Cross.
Bookings: Patten 74’
Justine Lerond, Selma Bacha, Julie Thibaud ©, Sana Daoudi (Carla Polito 60’), Emelyne Laurent, Annahita Zamanian (Amelie Delabre 60’), Melvine Malard, Maelle Lakrar (Julie Piga 46’), Lena Goetsch, Christy Gavory and Sandy Baltimore.
Subs (not used): Mylène Chavas, Camille Pecharman, Elisa De Almeida, Hélène Fercocq, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Pauline Dechilly and Marion Rey.
Bookings: Bacha 75’
Player of the Match: Georgia Stanway
Stadium: Stade de la Rabine, Vannes