England’s Women’s Football team beat Argentina on Friday to qualify for the last 16 with one game to spare
After their win over Scotland earlier in the tournament, Phil Neville’s side knew that a win over Argentina would seal their place in the next round and give them the chance to finish top of their group with just a draw against Japan on Wednesday.
The tense game was played on a clear night in Normandy with Argentina once again answering their critics. They are a whopping 34 places below third-place England in the rankings and are known for leaking goals like a sieve, but here they were resolute, defending stoutly with the goalkeeper, Vanina Correa, seemingly wearing magnetic gloves that attracted the ball to her every time.
To say the game was rough would be an understatement, with Lucy Bronze reduced to tears after a hard challenge from Ruth Bravo. England did well to keep their cool throughout most of the match, with Argentina trying to get a rise and bait one of them into something rash. And, then the time wasting began; niggly fouls and inordinate stoppages added to the frustration as Neville’s team tried to find some momentum.
England managed 19 attempts on goal compared to Argentina’s three and, the result would have been more comfortable if it wasn’t for Nikita Parris’s penalty miss in the first half. Alex Greenwood was fouled in the box and Parris stepped up after her penalty success in the first game. This time though Correa guessed correct and kept the ball out.
The first half finished 0-0 with the second half starting much the same as the first 45 minutes; with England attacking and Argentina defending in numbers, frustrating their opponents. This wasn’t how this game was supposed to play out, the England supporters expected a hammering like the 13-0 USA gave to Thailand earlier in the tournament.
In the 62nd minute, England finally made their breakthrough with a first goal in 14 months from striker Jodie Taylor. Beth Mead was having some success down the left, the Arsenal winger had played in Greenwood to win the penalty and turned provider again with a first-time cross that Taylor tapped home.
England held on for the final 25 minutes’, keeping hold of the ball well and playing the game out with 64% possession and 83% pass accuracy. They played over 3x as many passes during the 90 minutes’ and are now one of the favourites to bring home the World Cup.
At this stage it is impossible to confirm who England will play if they win their group; their next game will be on the 23rd June against one of the third best-placed teams from either group A, B, C or D.
England play their final group game against second-placed Japan on Wednesday at 8.00pm. The game will be live on BBC One and via BBC iPlayer.
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