England’s World Cup dreams were shattered in agonising circumstances on Tuesday night.
Phil Neville’s Lionesses fought admirably throughout the 2-1 loss to the USA as they crashed out of the semi-finals for the third major tournament in a row.
Seemingly unperturbed by Christen Press’ early opener in Lyon, England drew level as Ellen White notched up her sixth goal of the tournament with 19 minutes played.
The effort put her level with Harry Kane and Gary Lineker as the country’s top scorers in World Cup history, though it will serve as little consolation given the result of the match.
Alex Morgan also bagged her sixth goal in five matches to put Jill Ellis’ side back in front – and her ‘tea-sipping’ celebration drew widespread attention on social media.
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The goal proved to be the US’s ticket to Sunday’s final after White had what she thought was a second equaliser ruled out by VAR.
The controversial system then worked in England’s favour to award an 84th-minute penalty, but Steph Houghton couldn’t convert from the spot.
It was a cruel way to be eliminated from the last four, which will take some time to recover from emotionally.
You need only watch White trying to maintain her composure during a post-match interview to see how much they’re hurting.
“I’m going to cry,” she told BBC Sport before taking a moment to calm herself down.
“I’m devastated not to get to the final. All I feel is pride for my team-mates.
“USA had an amazing match and we just couldn’t match them. I’m proud to be English and I wish them all the best in the final.
“We gave everything. In the first half we were sloppy. We got ourselves back into the game with the goal and it’s bitterly disappointing.
“We’ve got an unbelievable squad and we had so much belief that we’d get to that final but we just couldn’t do that on the day.”
You can watch White’s interview in full below…
White’s comments on the strength Houghton showed in stepping to take the late penalty were supported by her manager.
Neville, who insisted “no blame should be attached” to the captain, told BBC Sport: “That was cruel. She was outstanding in the game and she read everything.
“She has probably had the best season of her career. She had the courage to take the penalty and then keep playing football after. She is an amazing person and a world-class footballer.”
England will face either the Netherlands or Sweden in the third-place play-off on Saturday.