England boss Phil Neville expressed his pride in his players at the end of an “emotional day” after the Lionesses sealed a place in the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup with a 1-0 win over Argentina in Le Havre.
Jodie Taylor scored in the 61st minute as England, who had earlier seen Nikita Parris’ penalty saved by Argentina goalkeeper Vanina Correa, made it six points from two matches in Group D.
At the end of the game at the Stade Oceane, Neville comforted an emotional-looking Fran Kirby.
When asked about that afterwards, Neville spoke about how Friday would have been the birthday of the forward’s mother, who died when Kirby was 14, and also made reference to Carly Telford, the goalkeeper who made her World Cup debut in the match. Telford lost her mother to cancer last year.
Neville said: “We’re a family. We were aware today it was Fran’s mum’s birthday.
“It’s been well documented, her love and the affection she has for her mother and how much she misses her.
“We had Carly Telford, who lost her mother as well, and she made her World Cup debut today after being in many a World Cup squad (this is her third World Cup) and never getting on the pitch.
“In the huddle at the end, we made reference to the fact that we hope their two mums were looking down on them, they were very proud of their performances. I thought Fran was outstanding tonight.
“We help each other. Today has been really an emotional day for everybody. Fran is a special person who misses her mum, and so does Carly Telford. So today we shared their emotion, their happiness, and their sadness.”
Taylor’s goal came when she turned the ball in from Beth Mead’s cross at the end of a good move.
Argentina used some physical tactics at times as they frustrated England prior to that, and Neville said: “We were expecting it, really.
“To be fair, there’s something I admire in that never-say-die attitude and trying anything possible to win the game.
“What we spoke about at half-time was keeping our heads and discipline. We knew for them to compete with us they had to do everything possible, but my players kept concentration unbelievably
and I was really proud of them.
“I thought they were outstanding. We asked them to play with patience, control, rhythm and speed and we dominated the whole game, like we did against Scotland (the 2-1 win on Sunday) apart from
“We’ve got a team that are really enjoying this World Cup.”
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