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The Pride

The Women’s World Cup was a huge success this year, with a strong USA side beating Japan 5-2 in the final to earn themselves the title of World Champions.

Despite being knocked out at the semi-final stage however, England’s women came home feeling like winners as well.

Their first fixture, against a quality France side, ended in a disappointing 1-0 loss thanks to Le Sommer’s first half strike. It had been a baptism of fire for Mark Sampson’s team, who had unsuccessfully attempted to engage in a defensive battle with the French.

After a cagey opening to their crucial second fixture against Mexico, England finally instigated a more free-flowing game. Despite chances, it looked as though Steph Houghton and co. were to leave frustrated, before super subs Fran Kirby and Karen Carney netted late in the second half to relieve the pressure. England were almost punished for easing up however, when they were caught on the break by Ibarra. The goal made sure the final moments were tense, but England came through unscathed.

The crucial final game against group-topping Colombia was more straightforward. First-half goals from Carney and Farah Williams from the penalty spot put England in control, and despite conceding late on again, a spot in the next round was assured with another 2-1 win.

It seemed no-one really knew how to call England’s round of 16 game. Norway are known as a solid outfit, but England had looked both good and bad in equal measure. The sides contested a closely fought game, with Norway’s Gulbrandsen benefitting from some poor marking to make it 1-0 before the imperious Steph Houghton immediately dragged England back into the contest. It was fitting that a moment of magic sealed the tie, with Lucy Bronze hammering the ball past the Norwegian goalkeeper from outside the box late on.

The win set England up for a huge encounter with tournament hosts Canada. In front of a crowd of around 45,000 England came flying out of the blocks, taking a 2-0 lead after 15 minutes through Jodie Taylor and then Lucy Bronze. Christine Sinclair brought the score back to 2-1 for Canada just before the half-time break, but England held on for the most important win in their history. They would play in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time.

Against Japan, England were not to be overwhelmed by the Japanese passing game. Despite going 1-0 down to a first-half penalty, England roared back with Farah Williams converting a spot-kick of her own just minutes later. In a cruel twist of fate however, with the game heading to extra-time, England were knocked out of the competition by a dastardly deflection. It was quintessential British heartbreak, but could not mask England’s astounding journey through the tournament.

All was not over yet however.

A third-place play-off against Germany gave England the chance to go out on a high, and it was a chance they grabbed with both hands.

Clearly motivated, Mark Sampson’s team more than matched favourites Germany, and having held the European Champions impressively at 0-0 during normal time, took the initiative. With 107 minutes gone England won a penalty which was inevitably dispatched by Farah Williams. The 1-0 lead was enough for the Lionesses, who had not only won the bronze medal, but had also beaten Germany for the first time in over 30 years.

England’s tournament saw them return home victorious in the eyes of the nation, and Art of Football’s ‘The Pride’ T-Shirt depicts one of many great moments as they celebrate a goal against Norway.

England’s pride of Lionesses made the country proud. It was a joy to watch them.

Written by Max Mclean from - @maxmclean10

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