One of the more questionable decisions of self-appointed football savior Phil Neville in Tuesday’s 2-1 semifinal defeat for England against the USWNT was to leave Fran Kirby on the bench in what seemed like a classic case of overthinking the situation.
No such mistakes were made on Saturday as Kirby was back in the lineup for the third place game, starting alongside fellow Chelsea player Carly Telford, who was back in goal. Unfortunately, England did not manage to eke out a better result than previously, losing 2-1 once again. England fell behind early, conceding twice in the first 20 or so minutes, and while Kirby got them back into it around the half-hour mark — wonderful cut inside and precise finish — a second goal was not on the cards. Ellen White had a second goal in two games ruled out by a marginal VAR call and Sweden made an amazing goal-line headed clearance in the 90th minute to preserve their third place finish. Congrats to Hedvig Lindahl, Magdalena Eriksson, and Jonna Andersson!
Chelsea captain Karen Carney made one final appearance off the bench in this one. She had announced her retirement prior to the game.
Congrats on a most amazing 13-year professional career!
Not enough words to describe the impact @karenjcarney has had on the game. It’s immeasurable. What I can measure is the impact she has had on me. confidente, advisor, truth teller, friend. Lucky me to have you in my life. Been through so much together we are practically family. https://t.co/XaQR75eF3K— Emma Hayes MBE (@emmahayes1) July 5, 2019
Elsewhere on Saturday, Nigeria advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Cameroon. Former Watford striker Odion Ighalo led the way with two goals and an assist for the Super Eagles, with Chelsea loanee Kenneth Omeruo once again deputizing at the back and even grabbing an assist on Nigeria’s opener with a rather mis-hit shot.
Nigeria will take on South Africa in Wednesday’s quarterfinal. Bafana Bafana upset the host nation Egypt and Mo Salah 1-0 in Saturday’s other knockout round match.