Jill Ellis described the United States' 2-1 quarterfinal victory over France as the most intense match of her career after the Women's World Cup holder advanced to the last four.
Goals in either half from experienced forward Megan Rapinoe ensured the USA will face England in Lyon on Tuesday, but Wendie Renard's late consolation for the host left Ellis and her players emotionally exhausted at the end of a heated battle at Parc des Princes.
REPORT | FRA 1-2 US
Despite dominating much of the game and preventing France from having a shot on target in the first half, it was a nervy ending for USA coach Ellis, who said she had prepared her team for such situations. "That was the most intense match I have ever been a part of," Ellis told reporters.
"A win's a win in a World Cup. I haven't seen many pretty games in a World Cup. We trained for a back five for moments like this. France are an incredible team. The surge from the fans was intense, like a tsunami.
"For having flexibility and knowing what card we needed to play at each particular moment, I credit the players. They've taken everything on."
France coach Corinne Diacre vowed to fight on after a sell-out crowd in Paris saw her talented team lose only its second game in its last 19 matches. Only once in the history of the Women's World Cup has France reached the last four but much was expected of Diacre's team, with six of her starting 11 against the USA plying their trade at club level for Champions League winner Lyon.
After a disappointing end to its campaign, Diacre remained determined, telling reporters: "I'm not the kind of person to give up. I still have work to do. There are still certain things we need to fine tune and work on together. Yes, it is a failure on a footballing level. We're a long way off our target but I hope we have retained something elsewhere, and I hope we have won over the hearts and minds of the public and helped the women's game go further and move into that next level.
"We showed we're not too far off the USA side. I've never seen a USA side switch to a five-player back line, so it's a sign we're making progress."
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