Women's Euros match report: England 2 Spain 3 - Late sucker punch leaves England facing uphill task

 

Linkoping Arena

The England women’s team could beat Roy Hodgson’s men, the national coach Hope Powell has reckoned, but in their opening group game at these European Championship finals they lost to the Spanish women’s side in a thrilling but ultimately heartbreaking encounter that was decided in the fourth minute of stoppage time by a goal that came off the head of the goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

“Absolutely, why not?” was Powell’s reply on the children’s TV programme Newsround when asked whether the women’s team could beat the men, though she quickly added: “I think physically the guys are obviously a lot stronger than the women, but if we took it on technical ability we’re as good as the men. We’d give it a good go.”

Powell’s players certainly gave it a good go at the Linkoping Arena, twice coming from behind through first the right winger Eni Aluko then the central defender Laura Bassett to seemingly save the match before the late, late drama.

The defeat leaves England probably needing to win on Monday against Russia, who lost 3-1 to France in Group C’s other game tonight, in order to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages.

“It's very disappointing,” admitted Powell. “To go behind and come back, not once but twice, and then lose it in the dying seconds is crushing. But we have to move on.”

On Spain’s winner she added: “I'm not going to single out one player. It is a disappointing night for everybody. There are 11 players on the pitch. I can't single out one when we didn't perform at all. We were very nervous in the first half especially. We just didn't perform. Our touch was off, there were too many unforced errors.

“But give credit to Spain, they probably deserved it on the night. They have been playing well and drawing with Germany in qualifying gave them a lot of confidence. They came into the tournament probably not expecting to progress given their rating but we didn't perform and we got punished.

“The players couldn't say much afterwards, they were very distraught and rightly so. They have just lost a very important game and now we need to dig ourselves out of a hole.

“We have two games left and if we want to progress then we know what we have to do. The players are not silly. They know they didn't perform. There will be a few frank discussions now and we will have to right the wrongs. We will have to bounce back if we want to stay in this tournament.

“It is about character now. I'm confident in the players but equally they have to perform. We will remind them of the unbeaten record they had before we came to Sweden and look to recapture that. They know they have the capabilities to do that.”

As the fourth-highest ranked team in the tournament England were not expected to lose their first game against a Spanish team that were just glad to have made it to Sweden. “To qualify for the Euro finals felt like winning it,” said the coach Ignacio Quereda after his team had scraped through their qualifying play-off against Scotland with a goal in stoppage time of extra time of the second leg.

Between that October meeting with the Scots and arriving at the finals they had played only three friendlies and, having also spent little time in training camps, and appeared to be the worst-prepared of the 12 nations at the tournament.

But they belied that assessment as, desperate for a revenge victory after being knocked out of qualifying by England for both the Euro 2009 finals and the 2011 World Cup, they started at a blistering pace and took a fourth-minute lead.

The midfielder Sonia’s perfectly-weight through ball put Boquete in behind the defence to send in a 15-yard shot that the goalkeeper Bardsley got a hand to but could not keep out.

Powell’s team were visibly shaken but, after another couple of anxious moments, they hit back with a near carbon copy of the goal they had conceded. The midfielder Jill Scott’s pass eluded two defenders to allow Aluko the space to drive forward and shoot just inside the far post.

A second England goal almost followed five minutes later, the midfielder Fara Williams driving in a 20 yard shot that the goalkeeper Ainhoa Tirapu stretched to turn over the bar. But the dangerous Sonia then forced Bardsley into a fine diving save from a well-struck angled shot.

Both sides continued to create chances. A poor 85th-minute  clearance by the left back Steph Houghton then led to the second Spanish goal, the central defender Jennifer Hermoso rifling in the loose ball from 12 yards.

A minute from the end of normal time a point seemed to have been salvaged when Bassett curled in a shot from a Rachel Yankey corner. But the game was messily lost when Alexia Putellas challenged Bardsley for an Adriana cross and the ball bounced off the keeper into the net.

Suggested Topics
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

News
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Sivero in Goodfellas; Simpsons' wise guy Louie

The sound of Goodfellas mafioso Frankie Carbone demanding $250m in “damages” would be chilling enough on film, let alone in real life.

News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?