ENGLAND began International Women’s Day with a loss today and manager Phil Neville admitted that they were “beaten by the better team” but challenged his players to learn from the experience.
Karen Bardsley’s own goal condemned England to a 1-0 defeat to the United States in a match where a draw would have seen them win the SheBelieves Cup for the first time.
“There is no doubt we were beaten by the better team. I think the positive we can take is from that last 20 to 25 minutes,” Neville said.
“It seemed that, once they scored, we started to relax and play and show a little bit of character and belief, but for 60 minutes it just felt as though we were waiting to be beat.
“I suppose this has been my most enjoyable game because I learnt a lot about my players. It was a top-end game against the best team in the world. They have good front players.
“I am proud of the way our players played, but what I’ve said to them in the dressing room after that game is: ‘Remember this feeling that you’ve got now,’ because in 12 months time when hopefully we’re in a World Cup, we can improve and be better than this team’.”
The goal came in the 58th minute when Millie Bright’s attempted clearance struck Bardsley and went into the net.
Neville’s side were close to an equaliser late on as Ellen White’s header bounced off the inside post, but they fell to a defeat which left them as runners-up in the competition.
Lucy Bronze saw the defeat in similar fashion to her manager, but she praised Neville for his refreshing approach to the team.
“Phil has been really good at bringing in new tactics,” Bronze said.
“We’ve always believed we can outwork other teams, the players are in great shape. Now we have added a new side — being brave on the ball.
“We’re not scared to maintain the ball. We won’t be dictated to. It’s really good timing for me because that is what I am learning since I joined Lyon last summer. Lyon are the best team in the world at keeping possession.”
The former Manchester City defender became the first England player to be chosen for the FIFPro Women’s World XI and fair reflection of her standing in the game following her move to Lyon last summer.
“It’s a very nice feeling to be in the World XI. The awards where players have voted for you are the best ones,” Bronze said.
“It’s voted for by the players who are playing against you, so they voted for me because they didn’t like playing against me.”
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