England will face France in the Women’s Euro 2017 quarter-finals after beating Portugal to finish top of Group D, but they failed to sparkle against the lowest-ranked team in the tournament.
Lionesses manager Mark Sampson made 10 changes to his side and they took the lead when Portugal goalkeeper Patricia Morais kicked the ball straight to Toni Duggan, who lobbed in from 25 yards on her 50th appearance.
Portugal, who had already beaten Scotland, equalised when Diana Silva had a second chance to cross after Laura Bassett failed to clear, and Caroline Mendes tucked in.
After a poor first half, Nikita Parris restored England’s lead when she waltzed through the Portugal defence to poke home from close range.That led to an improved second-half performance, but there was a scare at the end when Siobhan Chamberlain had to save Laura Luis’ late volley.
The Lionesses, the first England team – men’s or women’s – to finish a group with a perfect record since the 1982 men’s World Cup, have not beaten France since 1974 and have lost to them in their past three major tournaments.
The French will not have been worried by this display – and Sampson will hope restoring some of the team who beat Scotland and Spain will lead to a more accomplished performance in Sunday’s 19:45 BST kick-off.
They could yet face Spain again, after they qualified on goal difference despite losing to Scotland, who were eliminated.
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