Williams wants wonder women to take final step
Sunday 06 September 2009
England's women make history today when they compete in their first European Championship semi-final in Finland, and one of the heroes of the quarter-final, Fara Williams, says they can improve even further.
In between an Eniola Aluko brace, Williams scored early on in the second half to give England a 2-0 lead over the hosts Finland in their last-eight clash and she captained the side after Faye White left the field with a head injury. The Finns scored late on to make it 3-2, but Hope Powell's side held on to record a famous victory.
Holland provide the opposition today but despite England's impressive achievement of making the final four, Williams insists they can still up their game.
"We didn't start the tournament too well, going down to 10 players and losing to Italy," Williams said, "but with each game we've got better. We all know we haven't hit top form yet and we can definitely play better, but to reach a semi-final without firing on all cylinders speaks volumes of our character.
"I think there's still room for even more improvement and hopefully it will all come together today – and then hopefully in the final."
Williams converted a Katie Chapman knock-down following a Sue Smith free-kick to score against the Finns but she was full of praise for her team-mates who helped drive England over the line.
"I was delighted to score," Williams said, "but it was very much a team performance. Facing a team like Finland, especially as the hosts, we knew we'd need all the squad to help us get the right result, and so it turned out – especially after Faye went off injured.
"We played well in the first half and overall I think we were well worthy of the win. We were under pressure in the last 10 minutes, but we dealt with it really well.
"It's a massive achievement for us, but now we've got to focus on the next game. We'll need to concentrate more on the opposition than the fact that it's a semi-final, but we'll be more than prepared for that test."
Coach Powell saluted her England side for their superb victory over the Finns. "I thought we battled fantastically," Powell said.
"We managed to silence the home crowd early, which was important, but Finland understandably came at us in the last few minutes and I was really pleased with how we coped with the pressure. It was a really tough contest and we're just absolutely delighted to have come through it.
"The girls are elated, obviously, but they are very, very tired. The last few minutes were demanding, but we will rest for a couple of days now and be ready to go again for the semi-final. It's as far as we've got at senior level, so we'll wait and see who we face before we start our preparations properly, but we're really looking forward to it."
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