England finished their memorable Women’s World Cup campaign on a high note with a 1-0 extra-time victory over Germany in Saturday’s third-place play-off.
Both sides had suffered devastating semi-final defeats, England succumbing to Japan courtesy of Laura Bassett’s injury-time own-goal and Germany missing a penalty in their 2-0 loss to United States.
But it was Mark Sampson’s England who managed to bounce back, with Fara Williams’106th-minute penalty proving enough to secure a maiden victory over the world number one-ranked Germany and ensure their best-ever World Cup finish in the process.
Tabea Kemme was the villain for Germany, needlessly hauling Lianne Sanderson down in the box and Williams retained her composure to calmly send Nadine Angerer the wrong way from the spot.
Clear-cut opportunities had been thin on the ground during an evenly-fought first-half of normal time, although England went close to suffering another own-goal horror in the eighth minute when Jo Potter’s wayward header would have found the net had captain Steph Houghton not intervened acrobatically to hook the ball clear.
Houghton was then involved in her side’s most threatening moment of the opening period moments later, firing straight at Angerer from close range.
And while both sides showed plenty of attacking intent, with Karen Carney, Lucy Bronze and Sara Daebritz very much to the fore, the defences managed to hold firm until the break.
The lively Daebritz then came agonisingly close to putting the Germans in front, her stinging volley forcing a stunning save from Karen Bardsley away to her right.
Kemme also went close for the two-time World Champions as she fired inches wide on 70 minutes, while at the other end, Williams’ goal-bound, long-range drive was bravely blocked by Bianca Schmidt.
Eni Aluko’s pace caused Germany problems as England threatened to nick it in normal time, but it was not until the second-half of extra-time that Williams finally secured the victory.
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