By Ros Satar
- England’s Lionesses finish third in the Women’s World Cup, beating Germany with a penalty in extra time 1-0
- Fara Williams seals the deal with her third penalty of the World Cup
- England’s first win over Germany in 20 attempts, Germany top world rankings
England’s women achieved another first to conclude their most successful World Cup campaign, beating Germany in the third-place play-off with a penalty, scored in extra time.
There is no denying, it has been a rollercoaster for the side, culminating in a heart-breaking exit at the semi-final stage via a Laura Bassett own goal. It was the cruellest way for the side’s journey to end, but they had to pick themselves up for the play-off.
It could not have been a bigger challenge, having never beaten Germany in 20 attempts, and let’s not even talk about the spectre of penalties that have dogged many an English side.
Germany almost put England on the back-foot in the opening minutes of the game with their attempt on goal, and the match was an edgy affair, with both sides wasting their chances in front of the net.
The end of the second half saw a great patch by England and for a time it looked as though the German legs were tiring. Their chance came in the second period of extra time, after substitute Lianne Sanderson was brought down by Tabea Kemme. Fara Williams stepped up to score her third penalty of the tournament, beating Nadine Angerer.
England had to fight hard to hold on, as Bianca Schmidt made a last ditch attempt to equalise, just four minutes from the end of the match, which would have forced a penalty shoot-out.
This performance is the second best by an England team, eclipsed only by the 1966 win by the men’s team, and is a complete vindication of Mark Sampson’s tactics and campaigns that may have sometimes raised some eyebrows with his chopping and changing of the teams.
Sampson called his team ‘legends,’ he praised them to the hilt, saying it was special to even be spoken about in the same breath as the team from 1966.
“In my book, the players have always been legends,” he said. “I hope now the rest of the world and the country marks them in their paper as legends of their country.”
The 32-year-old Welshman continued: “It was an incredible result for the team, we knew the challenge we faced, not only against a world-class German side but to bounce back from the blow of the semi-final.
“The performance speaks volumes of the players. I’m incredibly proud of them. To achieve the third place, to be the top European team in the tournament and finally beat Germany, is something the players will be remembered for.”