Mark Sampson

Euro 2017: Mark Sampson hails England’s ‘unbelievable’ quarter-final win

Having Jodie Taylor up front is fast becoming like a cheat code in a video game for England at Euro 2017.

Unsurprisingly, Lionesses boss Mark Sampson is enjoying having her world-class goalscoring talent at his disposal but credits the obsession of his whole team over the past two years after France were downed in Sunday’s showdown to seal a semi-final spot.

Taylor’s latest star turn saw her get just one real chance over the course of 90 minutes in Deventer but one is all she needs.

The red-hot striker latched on to Lucy Bronze’s exquisite through-ball on the hour mark and clipped beyond French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi for her fifth goal in just three appearances in the tournament.

The fact the Lionesses hadn’t beaten Les Bleues since 1974 – and had in fact lost to them at each of the last three major tournaments – proved irrelevant in the face of Europe’s top finisher, leaving her coach once again in awe.

“She’s a wonderful player and her goals talk for themselves,” said Sampson. “Having someone who can put the ball in the back of the net is a massive asset to any team.

“But you saw in that move everything that is great about this team. They worked hard to get back in shape, forced the French team into an area where we knew we could find an overlap and executed a wonderful counter-attack.

“The team are putting Jodie in great positions to score goals but it take a player with a world-class talent like Jodie to put it in the back of the net.

“This is another fantastic night for the Lioness family and is down to the sheer hard work of our players over the last two years.

“You don’t turn up at major championships, click your fingers and produce performances like tonight – it’s hard work, obsession and supporting each other.”

A dogged defensive display saw out the remaining half-hour of proceedings following Taylor’s effort and host nation the Netherlands now await the Lionesses in Enschede on Thursday for a mouth-watering semi-final.

Heading into enemy territory might intimidate some teams but with the wave of momentum England are riding, Taylor is adamant she is unfazed.

“I’ve got so much confidence at the moment – there are the ups and downs of being a forward but right now, everything I hit is going in, so hopefully that carries on,” explained the in-form striker.

“It’s going to be a tough game against the Netherlands but we faced the hosts, Canada, in the 2015 World Cup [England won the quarter-final 2-1] and it was an incredible experience.

“We’ve had the belief all along that we can go all the way and win the tournament but maybe everyone else is now believing and seeing it.”

SSE is an official partner of the England Women’s team and is proud to be the energy behind women’s football, supporting the game from grassroots through to international level. Follow us at @YourSSE

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