Red Bull Arena, SheBelieves Cup

What a Night: England topple World Champions in SheBelieves Cup

If it weren’t for the incredible win against the USA on Saturday evening, our only memory of that day would have been the frigid cold, in fact my toes still feel tingly… Not only did we come away with all three points, we also came away with a new pair of New York Red Bull socks and mittens too. Never again will we complain about the low temperatures in England! 

Oh What A Night!

Following a testy game between France and Germany, which saw the latter squander endless chances in front of goal before coming away with a share of the spoils, the Lionesses stepped up to take on the World Champions and number 1 team in the world, the USA. In front of a sell out crowd, Mark Sampson‘s team lined out in a 4-4-2 formation, a switch in both tactics and personel. It was a quiet opening few minutes as both teams looked to suss each other out. We’re used to seeing England sit back and absorb pressure against the bigger teams but this was not the case on Saturday. With a couple of half chances here and there, the first half was memorable for the saves of both keepers. It was Crystal Dunn who led the charge for the US, beating Steph Houghton to the byline before sending a dangerous ball across the face of  goal. It fell to the feet of youngster Rose Lavelle who looked on course to score her first goal only for Siobhan Chamberlain to pull off a great save and keep the teams level. Ashlyn Harris down the other end had to be equally smart to pull off a close-range reflex stop to keep out Nikita Parris. The USA started strongly again in the second half with a sustained period of pressure but England’s defence stayed solid. They limited the US strikers to half chances with Dunn coming closest when she turned a low effort narrowly wide. With the 26,500 crowd getting restless, Sampson threw on Jodie Taylor and Ellen White up front. White in particular had shone in the opening game against France. This decision paid dividends and England for once were on the right side of a last-minute goal. When White won a corner in the 90th minute, the delivery came out to Lucy Bronze on the edge of the area. She hit a sweet half volley that had Harris stranded but ricocheted off the bar before White reacted to turn it home. The whole team wheeled away in celebration as we danced in the stands, surrounded by some very unhappy Americans.

Lucy Bronze before the SheBelieves CupPlayer of the Match

Lucy Bronze had an absolute stormer on the right wing, infuriating not only Lavelle but the entire US crowd with her speed and well-timed challenges. One minute she was up front sending in dangerous crosses, the next she was back putting in the tackles and thwarting the US attack. We don’t get to see her striking ability too often – the last time that comes to mind was that goal against Norway in the 2015 World Cup – but when she does, it tends to be special. Her effort in this match was the catalyst for the winner, stranding the goalkeeper and allowing White to scramble it home. 

Save of the Match

Both keepers were on top form throughout. While Chamberlain proved her worth in replacing Karen Bardsley between the sticks, the save of the game fell to Ashlyn Harris. With Parris’ touching beating the US backline, Harris made a last-ditch point blank block to deny England an inevitable goal.

Having finally thawed out, we are still on a high after one of the best victories we have witnessed. It is not maybe quite at the level of winning the World Cup bronze medal but beating the USA in their own backyard comes pretty close. Germany on Tuesday will provide another test but we’re hoping this result is the catalyst to changing our results and bringing us closer to the top three sides.