A bronze medal may not have been what the Lionesses were aiming for, but it cemented the best performance in a football World Cup by an English side for almost 50 years. It also confirmed them as the highest ranking European side in the tournament.
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup has reminded the media and football fans alike that the sport is no longer just a man’s game. In fact the skill, prowess and off-pitch attitude of the England team led many to compare them very favourably to their male counterparts, especially as the women have day jobs, as well as national duties and club games, to contend with.
England’s 2015 World Cup story began with a narrow 1-0 loss to France in the group stages. However this opening defeat did not crush the side’s spirit, and the Lionesses came back with style. Looking like proud ice warriors in the classic white England kit*, they went on to beat both Mexico and Columbia 2-1 to reach the knockout stages of the tournament.
England then won their last 16 tie against Norway 2-1 to secure a place in the quarter-finals against Canada. The Lionesses shattered the home team’s dream of victory at the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver with another 2-1 win. The triumph meant a place in the semi-finals against world champions Japan, where England’s journey came to a heartbreaking end.
The teams were level at 1-1 as the clock moved into injury time. England were just seconds away from forcing 30 minutes of extra time, and had everything to play for, when defender Laura Bassett scored an unfortunate own goal as she tried to clear a Japanese cross. The shock and despair of all the team and backroom staff was clear to see, but they rallied for the play-off for third place and beat arch rivals Germany – for the first time ever – 1-0 in extra time.
Speaking passionately about the achievements of his side, England coach Mark Sampson said the players had given blood, sweat and tears, and deserved to come home as heroes. The rousing welcome they were given on their return to Heathrow Airport proved he was not alone in his thoughts.
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