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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 September 2006, 20:23 GMT 21:23 UK
France Women 1-1 England Women
By Dan Warren, BBC Sport journalist
Dan's profile

Kelly Smith (left) congratulates Rachel Brown after England's World Cup qualification
England reached the World Cup for the second time in their history
England Women secured a place at the 2007 World Cup finals in China after earning a battling draw in France.

Needing only a draw to qualify, England took the lead on 63 minutes as Hoda Lattaf inadvertently sent a header past her own keeper and into the net.

After considerable pressure, France levelled when substitute Ludivine Diguelman scored a long-range effort on 88 minutes to set up a nervous finale.

But England held on to reach the World Cup finals for only the second time.

The finals start in China on 10 September next year and England will be present for the first time since 1995.

It was a gutsy display by England, who were on the back foot for much of the match against opponents ranked six places higher in the Fifa world rankings.

Hope Powell's side began brightly, but found themselves increasingly under pressure.

A tense first half yielded little in the way of goalmouth chances, with Laetitia Tonazzi firing wildly over the top after 27 minutes under pressure from Rachel Unitt.

Marinette Pichon also had a sight of goal 10 minutes before the interval, but her shot failed to trouble England keeper Rachel Brown.

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Pichon did rather better two minutes later with a turn and shot which forced Brown into a low save.

Brown also pushed a low effort from Lattaf around the corner as England reached half-time level.

France began the second half with real urgency and Sandrine Soubeyrand came within inches of connecting with Sonia Bompastor's free-kick from the right before Pichon forced a good save from Brown.

Yet it was England who broke the deadlock just after the hour mark.

Yankey's free-kick on the right dropped into the danger area and Lattaf - under considerable pressure from Williams - sent the ball looping over France keeper Sarah Bouhaddi.

The goal stunned the home side and shortly afterwards Eni Aluko had a great chance to seal victory but shot over with the French defence in disarray.

France piled players forward but were only able to break the deadlock with two minutes remaining.

Brown will be disappointed to have let Diguelman's shot creep in, and the goal set up a frantic finale with France knowing they needed just one goal to secure their passage at England's expense.

England almost scored again on the counter-attack but Aluko's shot rebounded off the post.

The miss did not matter, however, as England secured the draw to spark celebratory scenes among their loyal band of followers.


France: Bouhaddi, Dusang, Casseleux (Diguelman 87), Georges, Lepailleur, Soubeyrand, Bussaglia (Thomis 75), Bompastor, Pichon, Lattaf, Tonazzi (Abily 83).
Subs Not Used: Sapowicz, Necib, Viguier, Bouleau

Goals: Diguelman 88.

England: Brown, Scott, Unitt (Stoney 45), Chapman, Asante, Philip, Carney, Williams, Aluko, Smith, Yankey (Smith 78).
Subs Not Used: Chamberlain, Handley, Johnson, Exley, Sanderson

Goals: Lattaf 63 og.

Att: 19,215

Ref: Jenny Palmqvist

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