England knocked on the door all match, and Argentina turned them away repeatedly. In a game riddled with physical challenges and 50/50 scraps for possession, England showed the all-important desire to win with a well-deserved breakthrough, long-denied by Vanina Correa.
The Lionesses took the three points in Le Havre through a Jodie Taylor back post finish, her first goal in over a year, but it was the cross that should make the headlines. Beth Mead’s low, quick delivery tore an inch-perfect route past defenders and the excellent Vanina Correa in goal, to find Taylor’s lunge at the far side of the six-yard box. Perfection.
Read more: England’s Lionesses grasp a hard fought win
The goal mitigated earlier errors and frustrations. Chances were fluffed, including a number of headers which could have been more accurate, but the golden chance was a penalty. When Alex Greenwood was brought down in the box after a clever underlapping run, the spot-kick was taken by Nikita Parris. A poorly taken kick was parried firmly by the on-form Argentinian netminder.
England will be thankful for the breakthrough, not only for the second win which now takes them top of Group D – it masked some palpable tension about an inability to convert chances.
Correa had a strong game and Argentina defended with bite and ferocity, but England were never truly tested defensively and could throw players forward. That they found it so difficult tofinish past a more limited side does not bode particularly well for the later rounds of the tournament.
Here is how they rated on the night.
Carly Telford 6/10
The game was mostly up the other end but Telford did not falter when called upon.
Lucy Bronze 8/10
Received a nasty clattering when upended early on. Retained her composure and gave it back with interest with some excellent and incisive passing with impressive range. Her driving runs up the right wing drew fouls all game, and she was a key driver for England’s dominance.
Steph Houghton 6/10
Always sought to speed up progression, but you could question whether England needed to when they enjoyed such space in possession high up the pitch. Took two poor shots from free-kicks but also marshalled things well at the back.
Abbie McManus 7/10
No errors at the back and calm, no-nonsense passing and positioning throughout. A solid display.
Alex Greenwood 8/10
A calming presence on the match, who demanded the ball and higher standards of possession whenever she could. Got forward excellently and her clever run in the first half earned a penalty.
Jade Moore 6/10
A few loose passes as she sought to dictate tempo. Booked somewhat harshly.
Jill Scott 7/10
Took a little while to settle and let a key moments get the better of her. Big chances went awry and she started to chase the game, using her large influence to try to force passes that were not quite right. She brings so much to the game, but can try to do too much.
Fran Kirby 7/10
Pinged passes around and probed the defence well, drifting into half-spaces and causing lots of problems for both defence and midfield. Lacked accuracy at times, but the influence she had on the game was strong.
Nikita Parris 6/10
A bright start to the first half fizzled after a poorly taken penalty, which could have been very costly. She opened her body early, telegraphing her shot which was far too central on the right side of the goal, permitting an excellent save. She came back to the fore in the second, with frequent sprints down the wing showing her physicality.
Jodie Taylor 7/10
Struggled to put away a few chances in the first half of varying difficulty. Had a golden opportunity to head home in the 55th minute and put it centre of the goal, direct to Correa. A good back post finish off Beth Mead’s cross redeemed her.
Beth Mead 9/10
Showed excellent tenacity up the left wing early on, but let attacking moves get away from her on the dribble. She grew into the game, however. Her cross, a bullet low ball to the back post, was absolutely perfect and the highlight of the match. A moment of outstanding class.
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Georgia Stanway had some nice moments on the ball, but all three substitutes were introduced with less than ten minutes of regular time left. Stanway had a chance for a second in the dying minutes of the match, but her shot was blocked after hesitation.