Belfast Telegraph

Bronze: final was all we wanted

 

Foot first: Lucy Bronze challenges Lina Hurtig
Foot first: Lucy Bronze challenges Lina Hurtig

By Phil Medlicott

Lucy Bronze believes Saturday's World Cup third-place play-off "clearly meant more" to Sweden than England and that the Lionesses had felt the greater disappointment of the two sides at missing out on the final.

England lost the bronze medal match in Nice 2-1, conceding twice in the opening 22 minutes before Fran Kirby reduced the deficit just after the half-hour mark.

Ellen White thought she had equalised moments later but her strike was ruled out for handball following a VAR review.

Phil Neville's side had been beaten 2-1 by the United States in their semi-final four days earlier. Sweden suffered a 1-0 extra-time loss against Holland on Wednesday.

England right back Bronze, who won the Silver Ball for the tournament's second best player, said: "The disappointment of not making the final was enough for us.

"(Saturday's) game we wanted to win ultimately. But it clearly meant more to Sweden than it did to us, the way they celebrated. We're a team that wants to be in finals and that disappointment hit us hard."

England finished third at the 2015 tournament - their best Women's World Cup performance - via a 1-0 extra-time win against Germany, and were beaten semi-finalists at Euro 2017.

Bronze added: "I think we were more disappointed not to make the final than Sweden.

"I know from speaking to some of the German girls four years ago what it was like for them when they played us.

"We wanted to win the bronze because it meant something to us, it meant history and I think that's what it meant to Sweden. The disappointment of not making the final hit us hard."

On winning the Silver Ball, behind American Megan Rapinoe who took the best player prize, Bronze added on Twitter: "Very humbled to receive a personal award, but really not the trophy I wanted to take home. Proud to be able to represent the Lionesses and know this wouldn't be possible without all my team-mates. This ones for them."

Neville described the play-off as a "nonsense match" after the game, before stressing that he was "not disrespecting anyone" and saying he had made the remark because "we came to this tournament to win gold."

Sweden scored in the 11th minute when Kosovare Asllani punished an Alex Greenwood error, and Sofia Jakobsson then fired past Carly Telford.

Kirby replied with a left-footed finish before White had what would have been her seventh goal of the tournament disallowed.

White was judged to have been guilty of handball as she jostled with Linda Sembrant before slotting in, referee Anastasia Pustovoytova making the call after watching footage back pitchside.

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