England came away with all three points in Le Havre as they ran out 1-0 winners over a stubborn Argentinian team. Jodie Taylor’s second half goal was enough for Phil Neville’s Lionesses to seal qualification for the knockout rounds.
From the off, England were on top in this one. It seemed to be wave after wave of attack, but Argentina were determined not to concede. They did everything they had to do to stop England from scoring, whether it be by fair means or foul, they did not want to lose this game.
As a result of their brash tactics, the likes of Lucy Bronze and Nikita Parris spent a lot of time on the floor having been fouled. Argentina were punished for their mis-timed tackles too when Alex Greenwood was chopped down in the area. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and after a lengthy delay, Parris stepped up to take it. Unlike Sunday, this time she would see her penalty palmed away by the impressive Vanina Correa in the net.
That was the first of many great saves for the Argentinian keeper, she was in inspired form all through the match. No matter what was thrown at her, she parried it away or she punched it clear. It really didn’t look like England were going to be able to beat her, but fortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Argentina didn’t get forward much during the match, but pretty much the first time they did decide to foray forward, they were punished. They over-committed with five players being caught cold as England broke with pace. Jill Scott picked up the ball in her own half, drove across the halfway line and laid it at the feet of Fran Kirby. The Chelsea attacker continued the drive before finding Beth Mead out to her left, Mead delivered a wicked cross which found Jodie Taylor lurking at the back post to deliver the killer blow.
The goal didn’t really change much either, with England continuing to get forward and Argentina struggling to get forward. With countless missed chances throughout the game, the frustration had been visible on the faces of the England Lionesses. They remained headstrong in what they were doing, stuck to the game-plan and were eventually rewarded.
This was a much better performance than what we saw from Phil Neville’s team on Sunday. In particular, I thought Fran Kirby was excellent today – having been most-certainly sub-par against the Scots. Kirby, Scott, Parris and Mead were the standout performers for me in what was a great, although frustrating, victory for the Lionesses.
They progress through to the knockout rounds and will face Japan on Wednesday night to see who will top the group. With a game against Chile or New Zealand likely in the round of 16 awaiting the group winner, it’s certainly a game both sides will be desperate to win.
You can catch that game, as ever, on BBC One.