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Women’s World Cup 2023 LIVE: Lionesses receive heartwarming homecoming as attention turns to next game

Spain 1-0 England: Olga Carmona’s goal sees the Lionesses lose in England’s first World Cup final for 57 years despite Mary Earps’ penalty save

Michael Jones
Monday 21 August 2023 20:00 BST
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England fans around UK react to Women's World Cup final against Spain

England heartbreakingly lost 1-0 to Spain in their first Women’s World Cup final as Olga Carmona’s first-half goal proved enough to break the Lionesses’s hearts.

Sarina Wiegman and her players were looking to bring the game’s biggest prize home from Sydney but Carmona drilled a finish into the far corner on 29 minutes and, although Mary Earps brilliantly saved Jennifer Hermoso’s penalty with 20 minutes remaining, England couldn’t fashion an equaliser.

It was the first time the England men’s or women’s team have reached a football World Cup final since 1966 and the nation came to a halt for the historic occasion – which was briefly interrupted by an anti-Putin protester invading the pitch in the first half – but were left bereft as Spain saw out the victory.

Lauren Hemp came closest to scoring for the Lionesses when her curling effort struck the bar in the 16th minute but Spain were good value for the win as they became just the fifth nation to lift the Women’s World Cup, following in the footsteps of USA (4), Germany (2), Norway (1) and Japan (1).

Follow the latest updates as the Lionesses fly home:

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The two sides of the Women’s World Cup — and the truth about where power still lies

Surrounded by celebrations, an otherwise satisfied Alexia Putellas wasn’t going to completely let go - or let it go.

“It annoys me,” she said in the Stadium Australia mixed zone. You might call it the two sides of this Spain team, who have been beset by issues that also fittingly reflect the two sides of this World Cup. Putellas was certainly calling it that.

“This year has been an education for me,” she went on. “I have learned how this business is going”

One of the defining players in women’s football was at least going to turn towards this decisive issue, that framed the entire campaign.

“You’ve seen that the minute women’s footballers believe a little and are provided with basic facilities, everything comes out better,” Putellas said.

“It annoys me because it’s not just one country, it’s repeated. And Fifa have to take note. There are many countries who have spent time with disputes and they are disputes the players have made. That saps your energy when the player only wants to focus on training, looking after themselves, preparing properly and leaving everything on the pitch.”

That’s certainly what the Spanish players did. Through that, they were also vintage champions in how they reflected and brought together the prevailing trends of the game - from the tactics to the deeper tectonics. Olga Carmona’s supreme final goal may have separated them from England and the rest of the planet, but they had common cause with every other team.

The two sides of the Women’s World Cup — and the truth about where power still lies

The Women’s World Cup was a transformative tournament that showcased what is possible - but its legacy now relies on the decisions of those who have previously failed to support it, writes Miguel Delaney from Sydney

Mike Jones21 August 2023 20:00
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We won’t stop – Georgia Stanway vows England will ‘continue to break barriers’

England midfielder Georgia Stanway vowed the Lionesses would carry on fighting for top spot on the planet after finishing runners-up to Spain in the World Cup final in Sydney.

The Lionesses were among the pre-tournament favourites in Australia and New Zealand, with punters pointing to their dominant run to last summer’s European title, but injuries to Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby and the retirement of Ellen White left Sarina Wiegman without four players who started every match of that triumph before she even named her World Cup squad.

Wiegman barely had time to breathe a sigh of relief after learning key midfielder Keira Walsh’s knee injury, sustained in England’s second group-stage encounter, was not as serious as initially suspected before the influential Lauren James was sent off in the last 16 and issued a two-match ban.

We won’t stop – Georgia Stanway vows England will ‘continue to break barriers’

The Lionesses were beaten 1-0 by Spain in the World Cup final

Mike Jones21 August 2023 19:40
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The anguish, emotion and the story of the Women’s World Cup in photos

The Women’s World Cup has concluded. After more than four weeks of dramatic action in Australia, Spain defeated England in the final on Sunday to reach the highest of peaks and, with it, footballing immortality.

It’s not over the top to suggest it as such, either; some of the sport’s most iconic and memorable images down the years have come from this very tournament and that very match, both in the women’s and men’s games: Birgit Prinz’s joy in 2007, Lionel Messi lifting the trophy adorned in a bisht in Qatar, Brandi Chastain’s shirt-off shootout celebration, Pele carried off the Azteca pitch in 1970.

Those images are as much a part of football history as the games and players themselves – yet the people who bring those moments, those stories to life are, by the very nature of being behind the camera, rarely as prominent.

The anguish, emotion and the story of the Women’s World Cup in photos

Getty’s lead photographer at the 2023 tournament explains capturing the ‘smiling faces’ and ‘utter devastation’ to Karl Matchett

Mike Jones21 August 2023 19:20
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Fans demand Nike sell Mary Earps’ shirt after keeper’s World Cup final heroics

England fans are demanding Nike start selling a replica goalkeeper shirt after Mary Earps’ Women’s World Cup final heroics saw her scoop the competition’s Golden Glove award.

Earps saved Jennifer Hermoso’s spotkick and was a standout performer for the Lionesses, as they lost 1-0 to Spain at the 75,000-plus seat Stadium Australia in Sydney on Sunday.

The Manchester United star, dubbed “Mary Queen of Stops”, previously expressed her dismay over the “very hurtful” decision not to put her replica shirt on sale ahead of the World Cup.

After Sunday’s final, pressure increased on Nike to “step up” and release a Mary Earps shirt, and the company said it is “working towards solutions for future tournaments”.

Fans demand Nike sell Mary Earps’ shirt after keeper’s World Cup final heroics

Fans of Mary Earps want to buy a replica goalkeeper shirt, but Nike does not sell one.

Mike Jones21 August 2023 19:00
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Mary Earps’ World Cup Golden Glove award still isn’t enough to convince Nike to sell her shirt

Fans of the Lionesses will still not be able to buy a replica of Mary Earps’ goalkeeper kit despite an ongoing campaign throughout the Women’s World Cup to convince kit suppliers Nike to put one on sale.

Nike decided last month that it wouldn’t be making Earps’ goalkeeper kit available to purchase and the decision drew criticism from fans, celebrities, and even Earps herself who called the decision ‘hugely hurtful’.

Nike issued an update on their decision after fresh calls to produce Earps’ England shirt came flooding in following the 30-year-old’s incredible performance in the World Cup showpiece.

In their statement released on Sunday, Nike promised to address the matter in ‘future tournaments’.

Mary Earps’ Golden Glove award isn’t enough to convince Nike to sell her shirt

Nike have issued an update on Earps’ replica kit controversy after inititally deciding not to sell her shirt

Mike Jones21 August 2023 18:45
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England backed to come back stronger after World Cup final defeat

Captain Millie Bright is confident England will emerge a stronger side after processing the gut-wrenching reality of finishing as World Cup runners-up.

Bright said: “The mentality has always been there. The character has been there, too. We show that, day in, day out, and in every game. We’ve just played in a World Cup final, it’s hard to see it like that at the moment. I’m proud of the girls.

“We’ve played on the highest stage. We’ve had a shot at competing for the trophy we have always wanted but this isn’t the end of the journey and we will definitely bounce back. For now, though, we’ll let it settle.

“There are probably one million different feelings. Pride, disappointment, heartbroken that we didn’t win.

“We came off the pitch holding our heads high, knowing that we have given absolutely everything in the game. In the second half especially we left it all out there.

“We didn’t take our chances today and those are the small margins that decide football in a final against a top, top team.

“You get those chances and hit the crossbar, the keeper makes saves. They get theirs and put it in the net.”

Mike Jones21 August 2023 18:30
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England’s impact will last far longer than pain of World Cup final defeat

There remains a space above England’s crest, where that star could have been. It was what Lucy Bronze had dreamt of, ever since the moment where she first played for her country and realised England’s men’s and women’s teams don’t share the same badge. The Lionesses had the chance to change that, the opportunity to add their first star, the moment to capture their 1966.

But the wait will now go on. After a historic tournament where the Lionesses again made their mark back home and demonstrated the immense power of what they have created, Sarina Wiegman’s side were left with a devastatingly simple conclusion. As a first Women’s World Cup slipped out of reach, the deflating reality was that, on the day, Spain were just better.

And as England’s World Cup came to a close, there was no disgrace in that – certainly not against a side as talented as Spain’s, even with their issues. At full time, as the Spanish players celebrated at one end of the pitch, head coach Jorge Vilda and his staff at the other, Wiegman and her team were a picture of unity in the centre. Even in that moment, they realised they had already managed to achieve something far greater.

England’s impact will last far longer than pain of World Cup final defeat

Despite the heartbreak of their defeat to Spain, the Lionesses once again inspired a nation and displayed the power of what they have created

Mike Jones21 August 2023 18:15
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World Cup winner Olga Carmona learns of father’s death minutes after final whistle

Spain’s Olga Carmona’s World Cup Celebrations have been marred by tragedy after she found that her father died just minutes after the game.

The 23-year-old Real Madrid star secured a 1-0 win over England today in Sydney in the final.

Carmona found out that her father died following the full-time whistle. Spanish FA said her father died just before the final got underway.

World Cup-winning goalscorer is informed of father’s death minutes after final ends

Carmona’s family kept death secret from her for two days until after match was over

Mike Jones21 August 2023 17:45
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Spain star Jenni Hermoso reacts after FA president kisses her on lips

Spain star Jenni Hermoso insisted she “did not enjoy it” after being kissed on the lips by Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales.

The incident occurred as Hermoso made her way to the podium after Spain defeated England in the Women’s World Cup final thanks to Olga Carmona’s strike.

After being given her medal by Fifa president Gianni Infantino, Hermoso was given a hug by Mr Rubiales, who lifted her off her feet. A brief conversation between the pair followed, before Mr Rubiales grabbed Hermoso around her back and kissed her on the lips.

Outrage quickly spread on social media, with football supporters accusing Mr Rubiales of inappropriate behaviour.

Spain star reacts after FA president kisses her on lips

The Spain star was making her way to the podium after receiving her Women’s World Cup winners’ medal following her team’s victory against England

Mike Jones21 August 2023 17:30
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How not to win a World Cup: Spain, Jorge Vilda and the story of a complicated victory

As Olga Carmona ran back to the Spanish celebrations, having just declared that the federation’s support was “marvellous” with a World Cup medal around her neck, she and manager Jorge Vilda high-fived then shared a huge hug.

It was an image that went against the more prolific pictures of other players refusing to even look at their coach in the moment of glory.

This is not to try and say it was all much rosier in the Spanish camp than had been reported. It is quite the opposite. It points to how multi-layered the many issues in the squad were, going way beyond a mutiny against the manager that came about due, for the most part, to the nature of Vilda’s managerial regime and discontent at how outdated the entire international set-up seemed.

How not to win a World Cup: Spain, Jorge Vilda and the story of a complicated victory

While Spain displayed their talent on the pitch to defeat England in the World Cup final, questions around their controversial head coach continue to overshadow an unprecedented triumph

Mike Jones21 August 2023 17:15

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