Phil Neville: Lionesses ‘inspired’ by World Cup reception ahead of return to action

20 Aug

Phil Neville expects the Lionesses to feed off the positive reaction to their Women’s World Cup campaign as they prepare for the upcoming friendlies against Belgium and Norway.

England Women return to action for the first time later this month since finishing fourth in France, suffering defeat to eventual-winners USA in a dramatic semi-final.

England boss Neville will hope to build on the positive momentum started by the World Cup run
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And manager Neville admits that while there was an initial feeling of disappointment, the players felt immensely proud to discover the impact of their performance back home.

“On one hand, we did come home thinking we failed, because you want to win,” he told talkSPORT.

“From a football point of view, you ask 23 players and the technical staff, we wanted to win.

“But from the bigger picture, it was probably a success. There were many people that were inspired to watch women’s football and support the Lionesses.

“Now, to go out there and play football, the reaction we’ve had since we’ve come home has been amazing.

“It cheers you up, it makes you feel like you’re doing the right things, and I’m sure my players have been inspired by the reaction of the public.”

England lost 2-1 to the USA in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals
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Three stars from the World Cup campaign – Ellen White, Jill Scott and Karen Bardsley – have been left out of Neville’s squad for the upcoming friendlies.

Striker White – joint top-scorer at the summer’s Women’s World Cup with six goals – and goalkeeper Bardsley both miss out due to injury, while their Manchester City team-mate Scott has been rested.

Meanwhile, Chelsea forward Bethany England is among four new call-ups alongside Aoife Mannion, Sandy MacIver, and Anna Patten.

England Women v Germany sells over 50,000 tickets at Wembley – ‘This is just the start for Lionesses’, says FA chief

31 Jul

The head of women’s football in England, Baroness Sue Campbell, believes the success of this summer’s Women’s World Cup is just the start as the Lionesses prepare for a record-breaking homecoming at Wembley Stadium.

The women’s game experienced a watershed moment this summer as fans flocked to watch the Phil Neville’s side, breaking TV viewing figures as England reached the semi-finals.

They eventually finished the tournament in fourth place, following their semi defeat to winners USA and loss to Sweden in the third place play-off, but the likes of Ellen White, Lucy Bronze and captain Steph Houghton still inspired a huge growth of interest in women’s football in England.

England have come a long way in a short time under head coach Phil Neville
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And that was confirmed on Wednesday, with fans set to flock to Wembley to see their Lionesses in action against Germany in November.

The Football Association have announced over 50,000 tickets have been sold for the clash, raising hopes it will break the previous record home attendance record of 45,619 when Germany beat England at Wembley in 2014.

The SheBelieves Cup winners will play away against Belgium and Norwich this autumn before hosting Germany – their first home game since the end of the World Cup.

And Baroness Campbell says the match will be a celebration of the Lionesses’ achievements over the past 12 months.

“The World Cup was amazing,” said the FA chief, speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White live from Wembley on Wednesday.

“We got incredible media support and had just a massive surge in the following, not just from women either, about 50 or 60 per cent were men watching the women’s game and really enjoying it.

“We want this event at Wembley to be a real celebration of what the Lionesses have achieved and who they are.

“50,000 is terrific, it’s a step in the right direction and it will be a record if everyone who has bought a ticket shows, and we hope they will.

“We’d love to fill this stadium and what a homecoming that would be for the Lionesses.

Ellen White shared the World Cup Golden Boot with six goals in France – level with USA duo Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe
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“They deserve it. They’re an incredible group of women and they played exceptionally well at the World Cup. It was not quite the result we wanted, but nevertheless, it’s going to be a fantastic at Wembley in November and we hope as many people as possible come along.

“Since 2015 the women’s game has developed massively across the world, the standard has gone through the roof.

“I’m really excited about the Lionesses did, but we see it as a starting point.

Women’s football has never been stronger or better supported in England than it is after this summer’s World Cup
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“We’ve got the Olympics next year where Phil’s ambition is to come home with the gold medal and we’ve started our planning for that already.

“The year after that we’ve a home Euros, so the next three years – we talk about football coming home, woman’s football will be home and I hope by the end of the Euros we will have established it in a way that it will never go backwards again.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s interview with Baroness Sue Campbell in full above

Megan Rapinoe: Fans launch petition to get USA star on front cover of FIFA 20 after Women’s World Cup triumph

14 Jul

A petition has been launched for USA forward Megan Rapinoe to be the cover star of FIFA 20.

The 34-year-old was sensational for her country as they won the World Cup for a fourth time.

Megan Rapinoe won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball
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She picked up the Golden Boot and Golden Ball after scoring six goals and made an impact both on and off the pitch.

Rapinoe was vocal in her criticism of US president Donald Trump throughout the tournament and refused to go to the White House in the aftermath of the team’s success.

There has never been a woman on the cover of the popular video game and a petition has been on started on Change.org by Darren Holland to try and change that.

He said: “FIFA needs to change its policy on prize money but that’s just the start.

“More exposure of this team and women’s football will help change their minds.

“EA has already done more than FIFA in terms of support so this is a no-brainer which I know they must be contemplating.

“Much respect to IGN for the original post and image on social media.”

There have been just 197 signatures on the petition (at the time of publication) since it was posted on social media on Thursday.

Women’s Super League: Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge to host 2019/20 season openers

8 Jul

Manchester and London derbies kick off the new Women’s Super League season and games will be held at the Etihad and Stamford Bridge respectively.

On September 7, City entertain Manchester United, while Chelsea take on London rivals Tottenham.

Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side will begin their season at home to London rivals Tottenham at Stamford Bridge
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Premier League grounds will host the games with the men’s top-flight on an international break and tickets to Chelsea’s clash is free of charge to supporters.

Fans can claim up to four free tickets for the London derby, while City are offering up to three free tickets for under-16s per paying adult, with adult tickets at £7. Any additional child’s ticket will cost £2.

City reportedly considered making the game free of charge but decided adults should pay something as they want fans to view the WSL as a product worth paying for.

The club, however, did benchmark their adult price against the cheapest ticket available at the Women’s World Cup in France.

The decision to move the most high-profile WSL season-openers to large stadiums is part of a wider initiative by the Football Association, which runs the league, and the 12 member clubs to build on the interest generated by England’s Women’s World Cup campaign.

The Lionesses gripped the nation as they got to the last four of the World Cup in France
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It’s understood that both matches will also be broadcast live on BT. It will be only the second time City’s women’s team have played at the Etihad, with the first coming during their successful Women’s League Cup run in 2014.

Their usual home is the 7,000-capacity Academy Stadium, a five-minute walk away from the men’s ground.

The match, which kicks off at 3pm, will also be the first women’s Manchester derby since United launched their team at the start of last season.

Former England captain Casey Stoney’s side won the Championship last season but City will represent a formidable first game at this level as their squad is packed with players from England’s France 2019 line-up, including captain Steph Houghton, midfielder Jill Scott and leading scorer Ellen White.

Danielle Carter, Jordan Nobbs, Beth Mead and Leah Williamson celebrate Arsenal’s title triumph back in May
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“We are all very excited to play our first home game of the season at the Etihad Stadium and, better yet, in a Manchester derby,” said Houghton in a statement.

“Big games like this are the ones you want to be in as a player and every one of us Manchester City players is looking forward to getting on that pitch and giving you all a performance to be proud of.”

Last season, City finished second in the WSL and won both the Women’s FA Cup and League Cup.

Spurs came up with United as Championship runners-up but they also face a tough WSL opener against Emma Hayes’ experienced Chelsea side, which reached the last four of the Champions League last season and feature England stars Fran Kirby, Millie Bright and Carly Telford.

 

The game will kick off at 12.30pm on September 8, and Chelsea have told fans to only order tickets if they are sure they can attend, as they are expecting a full house.

The full fixture list for the new WSL season, its second as a fully-professional league and first with Barclays as a title sponsor, will be revealed on Wednesday, but the four other opening games have already been announced and will see champions Arsenal host FA Cup runners-up West Ham, Everton visit Birmingham, Bristol City host Brighton and Reading go to Liverpool.

USA 2-0 Netherlands: United States win the Women’s World Cup for the second successive time

7 Jul

The United States have successfully defended the Women’s World Cup with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in Lyon.

They become only the second nation to win back-to-back titles and cement their place as the most successful country in the history of women’s football.

No one could stop the worlds No. 1 ranked team
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Fittingly, Megan Rapinoe and VAR were both involved in the tournament’s conclusion, with the USA skipper slotting away a penalty awarded upon review.

Thankfully, the technology worked perfectly on the biggest stage, spotting a clear and obvious error after referee Stephanie Frappart missed Stefanie van der Gragt’s foul on Alex Morgan.

Until that point, Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal had kept the scores level with a string of fantastic saves, but the 61st-minute opener proved a turning point.

Just eight minutes later, Rose Lavelle took advantage of newfound space in the Dutch half to drive at the opposition defence and bend a fierce effort into the bottom corner.

The USA now boast four Women’s World Cup titles, which is mightily impressive given this was only the eighth edition of the competition.

More to follow… 

Heartache for England as Sweden claim third place at Women’s World Cup with 2-1 victory in Nice

6 Jul

England missed out on a third-placed finish at the Women’s World Cup as they were beaten 2-1 by Sweden in their play-off in Nice.

Sweden raced into a 2-0 lead at the Allianz Riviera, with Kosovare Asllani firing in in the 11th minute after an Alex Greenwood error before Sofia Jakobsson struck less than 10 minutes later.

England players look dejected following their defeat to Sweden
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Phil Neville’s Lionesses replied through Fran Kirby’s left-footed effort just after the half-hour mark and two minutes later the ball was in the Swedes’ net again courtesy of an Ellen White finish.

But, just had been the case in the 2-1 semi-final loss to the United States four days earlier, White had what she had thought was an equaliser disallowed following a VAR review.

This time the forward – the tournament’s joint top-scorer with six goals – was judged to have been guilty of a handball.

White’s frustration at the decision was clear, and it ended up a disappointing outing overall for the team after they had the better of the second half but were unable to save themselves from defeat, with Lucy Bronze seeing a late strike cleared off the line by Nilla Fischer.

Sofia Jakobsson of Sweden celebrates with teammates after her solo strike
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Victory would have made the campaign in France England’s joint-best performance at a Women’s World Cup, four years on from them securing bronze for the first time in Canada.

Instead they must settle for fourth, while Sweden, the 2003 runners-up, take home bronze for a third time.

Karen Carney: England and Chelsea midfielder to retire at end of Women’s World Cup, aged 31

5 Jul

Karen Carney has announced she will call time on her playing career when England’s Women’s Women Cup campaign ends on Saturday.

Carney, the Chelsea midfielder, has decided to retire when Lionesses finish their tournament with a clash against Sweden to determine the third-place side.

Carney joined Chelsea in 2015 and was part of their 2017/18 double winning squad
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Now 31, Carney, who played for Birmingham, Arsenal and Chincago Red Stars before joining Chelsea in 2015, says it’s time to do something else.

“I am incredibly proud to have achieved so much in the game but now is definitely the right time to retire,” said Carney, who will hope to win her 142nd England cap in Saturday’s clash with Sweden.

A scorer of 32 international goals, Carney also represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics and won bronze at the 2015 World Cup with England, as well as lifting this year’s SheBelieves Cup.

“To have played for England was my ultimate ambition and to do so at four World Cups and represent Team GB at a home Olympics was beyond the wildest dreams I had when first starting out,” she added.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has made this all possible from my family and friends, everyone I have played for and worked with and, of course, the England squad and staff. I owe everything I have to all of them.”

England manager Phil Neville added: “Karen deserves all the plaudits that will come her way. It’s been a privilege to work with her over the past 18 months, but even more special has been the chance to get to know someone who is an incredible person and a special team-mate.

“While she will not want a fuss, Karen is someone who deserves total recognition and respect as a true legend of the game.”

Carney’s international career lasted 14 years, with her debut coming against Italy all the way back in 2005
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The Football Association has plans to honour Carney at a future international.

Only Fara Williams has won more England caps than Carney, and Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s women’s director, said: “Karen will be regarded as one of English football’s great names. Her humility, despite all she has achieved on the world stage, is one of many endearing qualities.

“She’s played a huge part in the Lionesses’ incredible progress on the pitch and the inspirational impact the squad has had off it.

“I know Karen will be much missed by everyone at Chelsea and England, but I’m certain she’ll stay in the game as she has so much to offer.

“She’ll always be welcome at Wembley and St George’s Park and it’s right and proper that we mark Karen’s wonderful career in a fitting way in the months to come. We’re all so very proud of her.”

‘Nothing wrong’ with USA’s celebrations against England at Women’s World Cup, says Kelly Smith on talkSPORT

3 Jul

England legend Kelly Smith has told talkSPORT there was nothing wrong with the United States’ celebrations during and after their World Cup semi-final victory.

The Lionesses lost 2-1 in Lyon, after Ellen White had a goal ruled out for offside via VAR and Steph Houghton missed a late penalty which would have put the game into extra-time.

Ellen White fired England level before Alex Morgans winner – with Houghton going on to later miss a penalty
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The USA were blasted for being ’arrogant’ in the build-up to Tuesday’s clash – which broke UK TV audience records for a Women’s football match.

And they were criticised further after star striker Alex Morgan taunted England with a ‘tea-sipping’ celebration, while England captain Haughton branded US midfielder Lindsey Horan ‘disrespectful’ for interrupting a post-match interview by loudly celebrating with a team-mate in the media area.

Morgan’s celebration, in particular, sparked a huge reaction on Twitter.

But England’s record goalscorer, Smith, says the world’s number one team had every right to celebrate ‘however they wanted’ after reaching their third consecutive World Cup final.

Speaking on Wednesday’s Sports Breakfast, the former striker said: “Do you know what, they’re the number one team in the world, they’re hungry and successful and it doesn’t bother me one bit.

“I took my boot off and kissed in 2007 and I got told I was arrogant.

Kelly Smith began kissing her boot after scoring during her peak for England – seen here against Japan in the 2007 World Cup
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“You live for these moments. You train your whole life for that moment. So when you score in the World Cup semi-final you can celebrate how you want.

“It doesn’t bother me one bit.”

Despite the disappointment of the result, and their manager Phil Neville saying before the game not reaching the final would be classed as failure, Smith says the Lionesses can come home with their heads held high after a brilliant tournament.

They could still come away with a bronze medal, after all, as they will take on either Netherlands or Sweden in Saturday’s third-place play-off.

“When you play the USA, you have to play at your best,” added the ex-Arsenal Ladies forward.

The United States were just too good for England, with Morgan scoring her sixth goal of the tournament
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“They’ve reached their third World Cup final in a row and they’re the best team in the world so you have to raise your game.

“It was always going to be a difficult game for us, and I thought we had enough to do it, but the girls should be proud of themselves.

“They shifted the perception of the women’s game, they made TV viewing history, and I just hope they can bring that bronze medal home on Saturday.”

Listen back to Kelly Smith on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above

England 1-2 USA: Phil Neville ‘proud’ of Lionesses for ‘giving it their all all’ at Women’s World Cup

3 Jul

Phil Neville hailed his England players’ performances at the Women’s World Cup.

The Lionesses lost their semi-final against the United States 2-1 thanks to Christen Press and Alex Morgan.

Neville has said he is very proud of his team and didn’t want to see any tears in the huddle
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Afterwards, Neville said of the post-match huddle he had had with his players: “I didn’t want to see tears. You lose, but I thought the way we lost was exactly the way I wanted us to play.

“The courage they had to play football and keep going and battle – they left everything out there. We have no regrets. We’ve come to the World Cup and given it our absolute all, and that’s what I said to them.

“I didn’t want to see tears – there should be smiles. We’ve had the best 46 days of our life and it’s not ended yet.”

Midway through the second half, England thought they had equalised through Ellen White, only for her goal to be disallowed on a marginal offside call following a VAR check.

The Lionesses were then awarded an 84th-minute penalty via VAR, but captain Steph Houghton’s effort was kept out by Alyssa Naeher.

Millie Bright was sent off soon after following a challenge on Morgan.

Rather than returning to the venue on Sunday for what would have been their first World Cup final, England – now beaten in the semi-finals of three successive major tournaments – will instead play in Nice on Saturday in the third-place play-off, against Holland or Sweden.

England players were very emotional moments after the defeat
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“I can’t say to my players unlucky, because they don’t want to hear that,” Neville added. “They’re not listening probably to the words I’m saying in terms of I’m proud of them, they left their hearts and souls on the pitch – that’s white noise to them. Because they wanted to win.

“That tells me we are closer than we have ever been. Maybe in the past we’ve accepted ‘semi-final, we’re going home and we’ll get plaudits’. But my players don’t want to hear that any more. They’re sick of it, and so am I. We came here to win and we didn’t do that.

“I think we’ll have to allow 24 to 48 hours for this to sink in, for them to get over the disappointment. But elite sport means that on Saturday in Nice we have to go and produce a performance.”

Houghton accepted the responsibility of taking the late penalty, which could have taken the game to extra-time
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Houghton stepped up to take the penalty with Nikita Parris having already had two saved in the tournament.

While Neville told BBC Sport ‘no blame should be attached’ to the skipper, Houghton said she was ‘gutted’ and felt she had ‘let the team down’.

She added: “We’ve got to go and try and get a bronze medal now.”

In the build-up to the game, there had been questions put to the US about whether they had been showing signs of arrogance, and relating to a visit made by at least one member of their staff to England’s team hotel on Sunday.

Boss Jill Ellis said after the match: “It goes back to the mindset. We’re here for one thing. Not external noise. We’re here to win the trophy. So everything we talk about and focus on is about that.
“When you are the premier team, you’re always going to have noise, external stuff, to deal with.

“But I’m around the players a fair bit and the conversations I hear are about the game. I think they are professionals.”

Ellis also confirmed forward Megan Rapinoe had sat out the contest due to a “slight strain to her hamstring”.

Alex Morgan celebration: USA captain explains tea drinking pose as England lose World Cup semi-final

3 Jul

Alex Morgan joked she was trying to keep up with team-mate Megan Rapinoe with her tea drinking celebration against England on Tuesday.

The USA captain scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over England to progress to a third successive World Cup final, but her pose in Lyon caused a stir.

Alex Morgan’s tea drinking celebration caused a stir on social media
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Jill Ellis’ side have been accused of being arrogant throughout this summer’s tournament and were criticised for celebrating every goal in a record 13-0 win over Thailand.

Morgan’s controversial celebration caught the attention of an irate Piers Morgan who tweeted ‘That’s NOT how you sip tea’, before hoping the Lionesses made ‘these cocky yanks choke on it’.

However, she was praised by Hollywood star Natalie Portman for her starring role on the pitch, and afterwards explained her actions.

“I wanted to keep it interesting. I know Megan Rapinoe has the best celebration. I had to try and step up this game,” she said.

“I feel like this team has had so much thrown at them and us.

Alex Morgan was singled out for praise by Hollywood actress Natalie Portman
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“I feel like we didn’t take an easy route through this tournament and ‘that’s the tea’.”

Phil Neville’s side had an Ellen White equaliser disallowed by VAR before Steph Houghton missed a penalty in the 84th minute.

Houghton’s defensive partner, Millie Bright, was then shown a second yellow card to end England’s chances of taking the game to extra-time.

White had cancelled out Christen Press’ early opener, but Morgan’s bullet header saw the Lionesses crash out of a World Cup semi-final for the second successive tournament.

Prior to the clash, Neville had questioned the USA’s ‘etiquette’ after two of their officials were found visiting private rooms at England’s hotel.

But Morgan, 30, was full of praise for England’s stars.

She added: “I felt like England had a great game.

“They were unlucky. It came up huge for us with the penalty save.”

Morgan scored her sixth goal of the tournament as USA made it to the World Cup final again
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Rapinoe has scored five goals for USA at the World Cup and Morgan joked she needed to up her game when it came to celebrating goals
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