Ellen White: We’ve taken time to feel the pain – now we want to end on a high

Ellen White says England have been hurting after their World Cup semi-final defeat but will be “putting everything” into Saturday’s third place play-off against Sweden.

Having been beaten 2-1 by defending champions the United States in Lyon on Tuesday, the Lionesses are now in Nice preparing to face the Swedes at the Allianz Riviera.

White, who scored her sixth goal of the tournament with a 19th-minute equaliser in Tuesday’s dramatic encounter, thought she had levelled things again midway through the second half, only for her finish to be ruled out on a marginal offside call following a VAR review.

The 30-year-old then won a late penalty, awarded via VAR, but Steph Houghton’s spot-kick was saved by Alyssa Naeher.

England forward White told PA: “Obviously initially and yesterday it was still the same feeling of being really devastated and gutted to have not reached that final. I think we’ve taken a good few days to really feel that emotion.

“But I think we’ve come together now and we’ve said we’ll be putting everything we can into and sticking together for this bronze medal match, and that’s our priority now, to focus on that game against Sweden and hopefully get that result we want.

“We want to go away from this tournament now feeling really proud and having something to really hold on to.”

England, beaten in the semi-finals of the last three major tournaments, went on to claim third place with a 1-0 extra-time victory over Germany after losing 2-1 to Japan at the 2015 World Cup.

When asked about people who had a dismissive attitude towards the play-off match, White said: “I think a lot of people who say that or think about that have never been in this position, never experienced being in a World Cup.

“Some of us were in this situation four years ago where we lost against Japan in the semi-final and we had to pick ourselves up again to face Germany, to go into it wanting to win and come away with a bronze medal.

“We’re in that situation again, we want to beat Sweden. Some of the players have never won a medal in a World Cup. It’s an incredible achievement and we want to do it for the whole team, the staff, and for the country.”

White also says it would be “incredible” to claim the Golden Boot, while stressing that team objectives are her main focus and that she would “give everything up” if it meant England had made it to their first Women’s World Cup final.

White is the tournament’s joint top-scorer, tied with US forward Alex Morgan, who netted the winner on Tuesday.

“I would give everything up to be in that final,” White said.

Ellen White celebrates her equaliser against the United States
Ellen White celebrates her equaliser against the United States (Richard Sellers/PA).

“But, of course, I feel extremely lucky to be able to say I’ve scored six goals in this tournament. I’m really proud of that.

“Hopefully I can contribute in this last game. To win it (the Golden Boot) would be incredible, but I’m not focusing on that. For us it’s about getting that bronze medal.”

England boss Phil Neville has spoken during the tournament about White, who joined Manchester City earlier this summer after leaving Birmingham, “turning from a hard-working, grafting player into the predator”, and said: “In terms of characteristics she is a (Ruud) Van Nistelrooy, (Alan) Shearer, (Michael) Owen.”

When asked about that, White said: “He kept telling me not to be running all over the place and to be more around the 18-yard box and basically being in front of goal.

“I’ve worked a lot on my movement, my runs, my finishing and it seems to be coming to fruition at the moment.

“I’ve had a lot of discussions with him, with the staff, and they have really helped me, and I’m surrounded by very talented players as well who have been assisting me and helping me on the pitch.

“I feel really proud to be part of this England team, this group, and hopefully that can continue in the last game.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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