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The 'Bronze' Moment For England That Turned Out To Be Golden

OTTAWA, Ontario -- With the screams of "shoot!" from her English teammates ringing in her ears, defender Lucy Bronze had no hesitation in releasing a shot she is not going to forget -- ever.

It was her golden moment. And she picked the right time for it against Norway in a round-of-16 matchup on Monday.

After a scoreless first half, a pressing Norway put the ball in the net in the 54th minute -- and that's when England seemingly came alive. Captain Steph Houghton tied the game just seven minutes later for an England side that had looked sluggish up until that point, and full-back Bronze did the rest to earn the Three Lionesses its first-ever knockout phase win at a Women's World Cup.

England's win will go down in history -- as head coach Mark Sampson was keen to emphasize during a postmatch media conference in which he uttered the word "proud" with every second syllable -- and it could not have been delivered at a more apt moment.

England had survived a strong Norway attacking performance for the best part of an hour, and with Houghton's header, it was just starting to gain the upper hand. Confidence was oozing back into its game, although that had been fed into Bronze's mind long before the ball came to her feet 25 yards from goal.

"I just found myself on the edge of the box -- you know, I find myself there quite a lot because I like to attack and I like to get forward," Bronze told espnW. "I've been doing it in training a lot, but I would always tend to pass it and say, 'Go on, you shoot.'

"I did it in training once and Alex Scott was like, 'Luce, when you're in that position, just shoot -- what's the worst thing that can happen?' So I kind of took her advice really and caught it so well -- I don't think I'll ever score a goal like that again. Lucky for me it fell at the right time, at the right place, for the whole of the girls in the England team."

Sampson's influence was also key to Bronze pulling the trigger this time, even if he joked that it was "about time she scored one."

"Before every game Mark's like, 'Luce, you're gonna score today,' and I've been like, 'I'm not, I'm a defender -- let me just defend!' But he still says, 'No, you're gonna score.' I guess it paid off today, all that confidence he's been giving me in the past," Bronze said.

That was not all Sampson had to say about the Manchester City full-back.

"She's got the potential to be the best right back in the world," Sampson said after the match. "She recovered from the first half where she made a couple of errors that nearly cost us, and [goalkeeper] Karen Bardsley came to our rescue and showed character, resilience in both boxes.

"That's the best full-back performance against that winger [Norway's Ada Hegerberg] from anyone in this tournament, and to get that goal will be a boost for her and for the team. She'll take confidence from that."

Many would have been writing England off when Solveig Gulbrandsen headed Norway in front after 54 minutes, but the belief in the England camp never subsided.

"You look at the players on our team -- and even the players on our bench," Bronze said, "it's ridiculous the quality that we've got. We knew that a goal would come, it was just about finding out who and where it would come from."

And Bronze said it was Houghton's goal that gave England the momentum and confidence it lacked in the first half.

"And then I scored my goal and -- job done," Bronze said.

The job is not yet done for England, however. Next up is Canada and the opportunity to go further than any other England side has in three other WWC appearances (1995, 2007, 2011).

"These players will always be remembered as the first England side to win a knockout match at a World Cup," Sampson said. "We'll be inked in the history of England soccer forever, but I reiterate: We want this journey to continue. This team is determined to inspire the next generation. Determined."