England Women 1-2 Sweden Women: Lionesses' World Cup ends with third place play-off defeat
Last Updated: 07/07/19 8:27am
England missed out on the bronze medal at the Women's World Cup as they were beaten 2-1 by Sweden in Saturday's third place play-off in Nice.
Sweden capitalised on a disjointed and lethargic start from England as Kosovare Asllani and Sofia Jakobsson fired them into a two-goal lead inside 22 minutes.
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 thought was an equaliser disallowed for handball following a VAR review.
White's frustration at the decision was clear, but that was shared by her team-mates at the full-time whistle as they failed to draw level despite dominating the second half, Lucy Bronze seeing a late strike cleared off the line by Nilla Fischer.
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.
England fell behind in the 11th minute as Sweden punished an error by Alex Greenwood. The full-back attempted to clear a cross, but could only send it to Kosovare Asllani, who fired in.
Five minutes later, Carly Telford pulled off a fine stop as she touched Jakobsson's strike against the post, but her defences were soon breached for the second time as Jakobsson collected a pass from Stina Blackstenius, advanced into the box and cracked a shot into the far corner.
England started to find some rhythm and pulled a goal back just after the half-hour mark as Kirby received the ball from Jill Scott, cut in from the right and sent a shot in off the far post.
Within moments, it looked as if the Lionesses had scored again, Ellen White bringing down a Mead delivery with her back to goal, holding off Linda Sembrant as she turned and slotting the ball in.
But there was a subsequent VAR check for handball and, after watching footage back pitchside, referee Anastasia Pustovoytova ruled the effort should not stand.
White's strike was then kept out by the outstretched leg of Lindahl, before the whistle went for half-time, from which England emerged invigorated.
Karen Carney came on to replace Nikita Parris to make her 144th and final England appearance with 16 minutes to go, and she impressed with some neat touches.
But the fairy-tale ending evaded her as Sweden held on to the victory, Fischer's brilliant goal-line clearance in the final minute denying Bronze at the same time as securing bronze for her team.
- England have lost back-to-back games at the Women's World Cup for the first time.
- Sweden have won all three of their bronze medal matches at the Women's World Cup, also beating Germany in 1991 and France in 2011.
- England were 0-2 behind after just 22 minutes against Sweden, the earliest they've ever been two goals down in a Women's World Cup match.
- Kosovare Asllani's opener was her third goal at the 2019 Women's World Cup - the most by a Sweden player at a single edition of the tournament since 2011 (Lisa Dahlkvist, 3).
- Karen Carney's substitute appearance was her 144th and final game for the England Women's team - only Fara Williams (170) has played more for the Lionesses.
- There have been five goals awarded and subsequently overturned by VAR at the 2019 Women's World Cup. Two of them were scored by England's Ellen White in their last two matches.
Neville: We gave everything
England manager Phil Neville speaking to the BBC: "I think there was a carry on of emotion from the semi-final. The two goals sparked us into life and, after that, I don't think I've seen us play better. The courage to keep going forward, the energy - the players gave everything. We gave it our best shot, we fell short. We've got to make sure that next time we do better."