Sweden beat England to Womens World Cup bronze with help from VAR
Sofia Jakobssons 22nd-minute goal proved decisive as Sweden won 2-1 in the third-place play-off after Ellen White had what looked like the equaliser chalked off by VAR
Rotherham in November does not have too much in common with Nice in the searing 30C heat of a July evening but there was a definite sense of deja vu on the Cte dAzur on Saturday night.
Phil Neville readily admits that one of his toughest moments as England coach came in South Yorkshire late last year where a soul-crushing 2-0 defeat inflicted by Peter Gerhardssons side ruined his Christmas.
Following a shocking start this was an improved, if at times flawed, performance but still proved insufficient to overcome the Lionesses fellow losing semi-finalists. Falling slightly short in the face of the United States in Lyon last week was one thing but this served as a salutary reminder that England are not quite as good as sometimes advertised. Their style may have changed from four years ago in Canada where they finished third but deficiencies remain.
Neville knows it but nonetheless enjoyed the joke when, shortly before kick-off, Baroness Sue Campbell, the Football Associations head of womens football, told him that bronze can look a lot like gold, viewed in the right light.
The problem was that, despite joking that he was going to buy a new light to shine on that prospective medal at his family home, Nevilles side needed to actually beat Sweden and as England swiftly conceded twice it became apparent that this would be easier said than done. They subsequently improved, dramatically, but it was too little too late.
It was probably our worst 20 minutes and our best 70 minutes of a tournament in one but this playoffs a nonsense game, admitted Englands manager. We feel disappointed, frustrated because weve not achieved our goals. Im not disrespecting the playoff but we came here to win the tournament. We wanted gold not bronze. Theres a million things I could have done better but I cant ask anything more of my players.
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