Nikita Parris undeterred by second World Cup penalty miss


Nikita Parris has vowed to step up with confidence if presented with the opportunity to take a penalty in England’s World Cup semi-final at her new home ground.

The forward had a spot-kick saved for the second time in the tournament in France as Ingrid Hjelmseth pushed her shot away during Thursday’s 3-0 last-eight win against Norway at Le Havre’s Stade Oceane.

Parris had previously been thwarted from 12 yards by Vanina Correa in England’s second group game, the 1-0 victory over Argentina at the same venue. Prior to that, she had scored from the spot when the Lionesses beat Scotland 2-1 in their opener in Nice.

Nikita Parris' penalty was saved against Norway

After the Norway match, England boss Phil Neville, whose side face holders the United States in the semis on Tuesday, said of the 25-year-old: “She’ll take the next one. She is our best penalty taker.”

And Parris herself said: “For sure, I’ll step up. I’ve got confidence in myself and my ability.”

Ahead of the Norway contest, England midfielder Jill Scott had spoken about the work players in the squad had done with psychologists.

When asked if she would speak to one, Parris said: “For what? I don’t think I need to talk to a psychologist. I’m confident in myself.

“It’s not a case of I’ve missed a penalty and I’m down. I’ve just dominated the left-back for 80 or 90 minutes.”

She added: “When you step up and take a penalty it’s 50-50, but you’ve got to back yourself. The keeper made a fantastic save and I think she’s done her homework on me, to be fair. So I need to go back and research and do more.

“I need to practice on the training pitch. I’ve got to do better on the spot. It’s two penalties and two misses – it’s not good enough in my opinion for my standards as a player.

“I’m disappointed in that aspect but I’m happy with my performance. I’ve got mixed emotions.”

Parris was denied by Hjelmseth in the 83rd minute of a contest in which she made a prominent contribution, including setting up the second goal, tapped in by Ellen White shortly before half-time. Scott netted England’s opener early on and their third came via a superb Lucy Bronze strike in the 57th minute.

Next Tuesday’s match, and the final will take place at Groupama Stadium, the ground where Lyon Feminine – who Bronze has been with for the past two years and Parris has just joined after leaving Manchester City – play some of their home matches.

Parris said: “I’ve played on that pitch for Manchester City in the Champions League, so it’s nothing strange for me.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling that I’ll be playing on a pitch that I’ll be playing on a lot next season.

Parris joins Lyon from Manchester City next season

“I’m really excited. I’ve worked so hard for this moment. We’ve put in so many hours and suffered at times throughout this journey over the last two years. But we are here now and we have to dominate.”

A win on Tuesday would give England their first appearance in a Women’s World Cup final.

Reaching the semis here follows them having made the last four at the 2015 World Cup – their first time getting to that stage of the competition – and Euro 2017 under Neville’s predecessor Mark Sampson.

A few hours before kick-off on Thursday, the Lionesses spent some time with former England captain David Beckham and his daughter Harper.

David Beckham attended the quarter-final clash with Norway

Parris said of Beckham, who last month announced her inclusion in the World Cup squad via a video on social media: “He just said enjoy the moment. He said we were ready and we knew we were ready. He gave us some unbelievable confidence.

“He told us we inspire his little girl and that’s special. We like to inspire Harper but also the many girls across the country who are watching football for the first time.

“I want to say to them ‘keep working hard and one day you’ll be making the nation proud like we are today.’”

Thursday’s match had an attendance of 21,111 and the BBC have announced it set a new UK television viewing record for women’s football, being watched by a peak audience of 7.6 million.

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