We want to inspire a nation, inspire young girls to go and play football, says England Lionesses captain Steph Houghton

Sunday 28th June 2015

ENGLAND LIONESSES captain Steph Houghton says their 2-1 victory over hosts Canada will inspire young girls to take up the sport.

Football fans are feeling proud of the Lionesses after Mark Sampson’s side booked their place in the World Cup Semi-Finals in the teams furthest ever run in the competition.

The Lionesses stunned Canada with two goals inside the opening fourteen minutes through Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze, before a mistake from goalkeeper Karen Bardsley gave Christine Sinclair an easy tap-in just before half-time to give Canada hope.

But England dug deep during the second half to hold on to book a Semi-Final date with World Cup holders Japan on Wednesday night/early hours of Thursday morning.

Fans stayed up until the early hours to watch England’s Women create history for their country.

Central defender, Houghton, 27, told BBC Sport: “The fact we went 2-0 up early allowed us to settle down. 

“It was bitterly disappointing to concede before half-time but it is a dreams come true scenario.

“It was 55,000 people inside the stadium against 23 players and staff.

“We fought for the shirt to the very end. We limited Canada’s chances and we are delighted.

“It’s a massive thing for English football. The women’s game is changing and we knew this was a history-making game.

“We want to inspire a nation, inspire young girls to go and play football. We hope they were allowed to stay up and watch us!”

The very fact that the England players’ are not paid millions of pounds to play the game has been a breath of fresh air.

Sampson, was naturally proud of his team, when interviewed by BBC Sport after the game.

“What a show of resilience and character,” said the Welshman.

“We didn’t play much football today, Canada were outstanding but this team just won’t give in.

“I don’t know where this team found their energy. We got ourselves through and I could not be prouder.

“Every player run through brick walls for this team. We had to get to levels we have never been before.  It was a do or die game and we came out on top.”

Taylor, who got England into their groove in Vancouver, was reduced to tears when interviewed after the game – showing that this group of players passionately care about playing for their country.

The striker said: “I am about to cry. It’s amazing. Making history with England has been my goal for four or five years.”

Casey Stoney, 33, who played for Charlton Athletic between 2002-2007, tweeted: “I have waited 15 years, 121 caps and 3 World Cups to say we are in the World Cup Semi Final!!! Could not be prouder of this team…Thank you.”

BBC pundit and former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis tweeted: “I am so proud of you! You’ve made history together changing the landscape of women’s sport in England!”

There’s only one disappointed Englishman tonight – and that’s Canada’s manager John Herdman.

“Canada, we’ve given you our best but it just wasn’t good enough,” he said afterwards.

“We wanted to go all the way. We are absolutely gutted.

“We made mistakes, they caught us on a set-play and an error.

“I don’t think anyone hid from the responsibility. I want to thank everyone who supported us. I can’t believe it ended like this.”

With a nation looking forward to their make-or-break Semi-Final clash against holders Japan, former England striker Sue Smith fancies the Lionesses chances.

“They need to keep believing,” she told BBC Sport.

“There is no reason why they can’t go on and beat Japan. Yes, they are a fantastic team and play unbelievable football but so can England now.”

If England do get through to the Final, they will face USA or foes Germany – a win on penalties would certainly feel sweet!

It’s definitely worth staying up late for!