England’s exhilarting World Cup journey ended on a sour note after defeat to Spain in the final in Sydney.
Sarina Wiegman’s side were well below-par in the first half and Spain took a deserved lead through Olga Carmona on the half-hour mark.
Mary Earps had already made a miraculous save to keep the game level, when Salma Paralluelo somehow failed to score from close range.
Lauren Hemp had the Lionesses’ best chance of the first half but the woodwork met her curling effort from the edge of the box.
Paralluelo went close to doubling Spain’s lead on the brink of half-time but she was denied by the post.
That miss allowed Wiegman to switch formation at the interval, with England moving from a 3-5-2 to a traditional 4-4-2.
Lauren James, who was suspended for the last two matches after her sending off against Nigeria in the last-16, was subbed on at half-time alongside Chloe Kelly with Alessia Russo and Rachel Daly making way.
That move gave England more width and it almost paid instant dividends when Kelly whipped a fantastic cross into Hemp, only for the Manchester City forward to put her effort wide.
Wegiman’s changes had stemmed the tide of pressure from Spain and England ‘s play improved significantly after the break.
But just as England built up some momentum to get back into the game, the Lionesses conceded a controversial penalty when Kiera Walsh was adjudged to have handled in the area after a VAR review.
With twenty minutes left on the clock, Earps stood in the way of Jenni Hermoso firing Spain to their first World Cup victory but that’s exactly what the Manchester United star did as she guessed the right way to save Hermoso’s effort.
That save gave England a second wind and James instantly tested Cata Coll in the Spanish net as she made a smart stop at her front post to keep her side ahead.
The final ten minutes of normal time barely saw the ball in play, as injury to Alex Greenwood and a series of incidents broke up play.
Thankfully, there was 13 minutes of stoppage time as England threw the kitchen sink at the Spanish in search of an equaliser.
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