Head coach Mark Sampson hailed ‘an excellent England performance’ after a 1-0 defeat to France in the team’s opening Women’s World Cup group game.
Eugenie Le Sommer rifled a 29th-minute winner for France after England conceded possession deep in midfield.
England pushed for an equaliser in the final 30 minutes, after taking an increasingly positive approach and switching formation from 4-5-1 to 4-3-3, but chances were at a premium as France held firm.
“The longer the second half went on there was only one team that was going to score,” Sampson said.
“That was an excellent England performance.”
France beat England on penalties at the 2011 World Cup and were resounding 3-0 winners against the Lionesses at Euro 2013, in what proved to be Hope Powell’s final match in charge.
Sampson’s team face Mexico and Colombia in their final two Group F games, and showed enough in the late stages against France to indicate they can come through those games to reach the knock-out rounds.
Rated the sixth best team in the world by FIFA, England knew the game against third-ranked France was sure to be a tough opener.
The early damage could not be repaired this time, but Sampson remained positive.
“I thought we managed the first half superbly,” said the 32-year-old.
“You’re always going to be vulnerable to a sharp counter-attack. Sometimes you get caught with a fantastic finish.”
England found the team ranked third in the world just too good as Sampson’s women began their Group F campaign on a losing note.
There might have been a different end story had referee Thalia Mitsi spotted an apparently intentional elbow from Camille Abily on Laura Bassett with 20 minutes to go.
Despite the loss England still stand a strong chance of reaching the last 16.