Nikita Parris

Euro 2017: England full of belief after reaching knockout phase

Toni Duggan proved yet again that she can produce when it matters at Euro 2017, but knows she is far from guaranteed a starting place against France in Sunday’s quarter-final.

The Barcelona-bound forward scored the opening goal in England’s 2-1 win against Portugal, lofting the ball into the back of the net from 25 yards as the Lionesses secured their safe passage into the last eight in the Netherlands.

But boss Mark Sampson made ten changes to his side in order to rest the players who beat Scotland and Spain last week, and Duggan faces being dropped back to the bench despite netting her second goal in three games – with Fran Kirby and Jodie Taylor waiting to be restored to the first team.

“It is difficult, every player wants to be on the pitch. If anyone says they are happy sitting on the bench then they are lying,” she said.

“I have been itching to get out there and I think you saw that.

“We had dips because we were probably trying too hard, but we have a great group and whoever is on the pitch we all support each other.

“We know any players could, play because we have a great squad with a lot of ability, but it depends on the team and on the gameplan each game.

“I have just got to sit there and wait for my chance, thankfully this time I took it against Portugal and I took it against Scotland when I got my first goal.

“But I just to have sit there and be patient now.”

It was far from a vintage England display in Tilburg and Portugal, the lowest ranked team in the competition, more than gave the Lionesses a fright when Carolina Mendes cancelled out Duggan’s early strike.

Nikita Parris netted the winner early in the second half, but England must improve against France on Sunday if they are to keep their hopes of becoming champions alive – but, for now, Sampson is delighted with their progress.

“To win at a major championship is always difficult and I thought the players had to show a different side to them,” he said.

“We scored an early goal and conceded one out of nothing, it was completely against the run of play and we did think we were fouled in the build-up but the character and resilience of the team to regroup and manage as well as we did was great.

“It is a really good result for us, so to be at this stage of the tournaments with three wins and ten goals, which is significantly higher than any other team, is what we wanted to do.”

VIDEO: Interviews with Mark Sampson and goal scorers Toni Duggan and Nikita Parris

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