France 3-1 England: Lionesses fall to friendly defeat in Caen despite Fran Kirby penalty

George Flood
·2-min read
 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

England Women were defeated by France in Hege Riise’s second game in charge on Friday night.

In their first away match for almost a year at the Stade Michel d'Ornano in Caen, the Lionesses saw a Beth Mead goal ruled out for offside shortly before Sandy Baltimore gave France the lead with an excellent strike.

The hosts doubled their advantage shortly after the hour mark through Viviane Asseyi’s penalty after Rachel Daly collided with Elisa de Almeida.

England hit back with their own spot-kick from Chelsea’s Fran Kirby with 11 minutes remaining following Marion Torrent’s foul on Lauren Hemp, but Marie-Antoinette Katoto then wrapped up victory in an entertaining friendly with a simple finish.

France, who extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches, conceded their first goal in over 13 and a half hours and England will be disappointed they did not add to their tally.

Mead's effort in the 31st minute was ruled out for offside and the unmarked Nikita Parris headed a golden chance wide from Walsh's pin-point cross on the stroke of half-time.

One minute after Mead thought she had given England the lead, France swept up field and Baltimore finished off a slick counter by arrowing her finish into the top corner.

De Almeida pulled the game's first real chance wide in the seventh minute before England responded through Arsenal forward Mead, whose well-struck shot was held by France goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.

England goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck had earlier denied Baltimore and Valerie Gauvin, while Peyraud-Magnin kept out Parris' low effort in the bottom corner.

Roebuck produced two more crucial saves just after the hour mark to keep out shots from Katoto and Asseyi.

Asseyi's fierce drive was tipped onto the crossbar and when Daly collided with De Almeida as both players went for the rebound, Swedish referee Sara Persson consulted with her assistant and pointed to the spot.

Asseyi, a replacement for Gauvin two minutes earlier, coolly converted her penalty into the bottom corner.

Hemp's introduction for Mead in the 64th minute gave England a cutting edge and she won a penalty when brought down by Torrent, which was despatched by Kirby into the bottom corner 14 minutes later.

Manchester City forward Hemp then teed up Walsh and the latter's shot hit Peyraud-Magnin's left-hand post before France broke away for their third goal.

Kadidiatou Diani raced clear down the right and her low cross was steered home by Katoto.

It was the first time England, wearing black armbands as a mark of respect following the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, had faced a team in the world's top 10 since March 2020 and they were made to pay for some wayward finishing.

Additional reporting by PA.

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