England Women went top of Group D, and three points clear, with a 2-0 win over Spain.
After their 6-0 demolition of Scotland in their opening group game, the Lionesses faced a sterner test against Spain. Captain Steph Houghton nearly gifted Spain a goal in the first minute but Vicky Losada’s effort was just wide. England recovered very quickly from a shaky start to take the lead. Fran Kirby’s cool finish after two minutes, thanks to a through ball from Ellen White, put England in front. Just what they needed to settle the nerves.
England should have been 2-0 up within six minutes but Millie Bright was cruelly denied her first goal on the international stage. Bright produced a brilliant header from a superb Jordan Nobbs free-kick but it was wrongly ruled offside. Coach Mark Sampson was understandably furious with the decision.
Despite the injustice, England continued to press forward while keeping Spain at arm’s length.
As the first half progressed, Spain grew into the game and began to dominate possession but were still unable to penetrate England’s defence. Losada, who could have scored in the first minute, was Spain’s biggest threat as they pushed for an equaliser.
Spain continued their dominance in possession into the second half. England, despite their one goal lead, were on the back foot and under pressure.
It seemed that England’s luck had run out in the 75th minute when the referee gave a penalty to Spain for a White handball. Then, the referee changed her mind. Just like that. I suppose that makes up for Bright’s goal which was wrongly ruled offside! Spain, of course, were absolutely furious. The standard of refereeing in this tournament has left a lot to be desired.
With five minutes remaining, Jodie Taylor put the result beyond all doubt with her fourth goal of the tournament. Spain may have had all the possession, but England had two goals. Jordan Nobbs was involved once again as Taylor got on the end of her clever flick to retain her position as the tournament’s current top scorer.
England are top of Group D, three points clear of Spain and Portugal heading into the final group games. This win was nowhere as easy as it was against Scotland, but England were just as deserving of it. Mark Sampson has filled his side with belief and in games like this, it really shows.
England Starting XI: Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes, Moore, Scott, Nobbs, Kirby (Christiansen 69), White (Duggan 79), Taylor (Potter 89)
Unused substitutes: Williams, Chamberlain, Carney, Bassett, Parris, Greenwood, Telford, Scott
Spain Starting XI: Panos, Torrejon, Pereira, Paredes, Corredera, Losada (Perez 73), Silvia Meseguer, Putellas, Ouahabi (Vinals 89), Sampedro (Reyes 89), Hermoso
Unused substitutes: Nunez, Delgado, Dono, Quinones, Lopez, Rodriguez, Cebrain, Oliver, Nicart