‘Heartbroken’ England proud of WWC journey


SYDNEY, Australia — England captain Millie Bright said she is “absolutely heartbroken” after they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Spain in the World Cup final but manager Sarina Wiegman insisted they can be proud of their campaign.

Wiegman said the team were devastated but should be proud of how they battled through the tournament, overcoming adversity in the process only to fall just short at the last hurdle.

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England fell to a first-half goal from Olga Carmona and despite making two changes at half time and Mary Earps saving a second-half penalty from Jennifer Hermoso, England couldn’t find a way back into the match.

“Everyone was very disappointed that we didn’t win the game,” Wiegman said. “We can be very proud of ourselves though it doesn’t feel that way at this moment, that takes a little bit of time.

“The disappointment is the way you feel. But everything we have done, how we have grown into the tournament, the challenges we had before the tournament, during the tournament and how we have adapted to situations. We have given everything that we could in this tournament and also in this game. We can still be proud.”

Wiegman felt the decision to give the penalty was “way too light” but she was delighted with Earps’ save. Despite bringing on Lauren James and Chloe Kelly at half time, England couldn’t carve out the clear cut chances needed to get even.

“Spain are so good with possession, playing behind the ball, very tight, very technical,” Wiegman said. “They’re the team with the best possession game [in the tournament], we knew that before the tournament, but they were even better. They had a good tournament and to be really honest, they deserve this. Well if we could’ve got the goal, it’d been different. We were very close.”

Speaking to the BBC after the final, Bright said: “This is really hard to take. We gave it everything. We had chances, we hit the bar, but we just didn’t have the final edge and they got theirs in back of the net.

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“We’re absolutely heartbroken. We gave everything. Unfortunately we just weren’t there.”

England midfielder Georgia Stanway also expressed her disappointment of losing the final but said the team should be proud of their silver medal.

“It’s gutting, it’s devastating, but that’s football,” Stanway said. “It’s hard to watch another team celebrate when it’s your goal and your dream. When the dust settles, we’ll be really proud of this.

“We’ve faced a lot in this tournament, before the tournament, people probably didn’t have us written to be in this situation, so to reach a World Cup final is an achievement alone.

“We hope we’ve inspired many many people. We’re the Lionesses, so we won’t stop what we’re doing, we’ll continue to break barriers, we’ll continue to push on.”

Wiegman’s next task will be to pick up her side and lead England into the Nations League.

“We have a very short turnaround but we’ll start in September with Scotland and the Netherlands in the Nations League to qualify for the Olympics,” she said. “You want to improve all the time.

“That’s what I see, this group of players are so eager to be successful so every next moment we want to grab and be better. Growth is one of the things that is really into this team.”


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