England given reality check by ex-Lioness after battling to quarter-finals

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England given reality check by ex-Lioness after battling to quarter-finals
England given reality check by ex-Lioness after battling to quarter-finals

Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis suggested the Lionesses were lucky to scrape past Nigeria and book their place in the Women's World Cup quarter-finals.

The European Champions were second best for much of their last-16 clash, with their chances of securing victory hampered by a late red card for Lauren James after a needless stamp on Michelle Alozie. After a goalless 120 minutes, Georgia Stanway fired the first spot-kick of the shoot-out wide for England only for both Desire Oparanozie and Alozie to miss the target with their efforts.

With everyone else successful from the spot, it fell on Chloe Kelly to emphatically smash home the winning penalty, following on from her extra-time winner in the Euros final last summer and the decisive spot-kick in a shoot-out win over Brazil in the Finalissima in April.

Indeed, the result was a huge relief for England, who now face either Colombia or Jamaica in Saturday's quarter-final. Speaking after the match, Brown-Finnis - who won 82 caps for the Lionesses before retiring in 2013 - told BBC One: "It was gritty, determined and dogged. It needed all of those and more to get the win.

“That's the relief of getting the win when other big teams have gone out - the USA, Germany, Canada. Other higher ranked teams are out of this competition and England are still in it and, ultimately, that is all that matters."

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When quizzed on whether England deserved to go through, she added: "The better team lost tonight. Deserving? It's hard to quantify what that is in football. A team wins or loses in a knockout situation. Deserving doesn't come into it.

"The better team was Nigeria, they played the better football and created more shots on goal. They were very organised. Their game plan put England on the back foot and stifled how they could play. But they are through and that's the end of it."

England given reality check by ex-Lioness after battling to quarter-finalsSarina Wiegman delivers instructions to her team during the last-16 Women's World Cup clash (AP)

England boss Sarina Wiegman, meanwhile, admitted “sweetest person” James “lost her emotions” as she received a red card that could see the 21-year-old miss the remainder of the World Cup.

James’ brace and two assists earned her player-of-the-match honours against China, but this time she was sent off after it was ruled she had deliberately stepped on the back of Nigeria defender Alozie with three minutes of normal time remaining of a game that ended goalless after 120 minutes.

Wiegman, who had not watched the incident back, said: “She’s an inexperienced player on this stage and has done really well, and I think in a split second she just lost her emotions.

“And of course she doesn’t want to hurt anyone. She’s the sweetest person I know, and things happen like that and you can’t change it anymore, so it’s a huge lesson for her to learn, but of course it’s not something that she really did on purpose.” Wiegman said she personally delivered a similar speech to James, adding: “Of course she apologised and she felt really, really bad.”

Izzy Yard

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