England manager Sarina Wiegman has said her team must remain proud despite their disappointment after losing 1-0 to Spain in the Women’s World Cup final.
Spain captain Olga Carmona produced a sublime strike to win the tournament, with La Roja winning the trophy for the first time.
Despite half-time substitutions of Chloe Kelly and Lauren James for Alessia Russo and Rachel Daly, and a superb penalty save from Mary Earps, England were unable to find a way back into the match.
“Everyone has seen an incredible game, a very open game, two teams who want to play football. A game of two halves for us,” Wiegman told BBC Sport.
“The first half we struggled to press the ball. We changed it second half, back to 4-3-3, and I think we got some momentum then. But then the tempo went out of the game. We got momentum and then gave away the penalty. And the injury with Alex [Greenwood].
“After all, Spain were just a little bit better than we were today and they had a great tournament. Congrats for Spain.
“Of course it feels really bad now. We’re very disappointed. What we have done, what we have shown, to play how we have as a team, overcoming so many challenges, we can be so proud of ourselves. Only it doesn’t feel like that at the moment.”
Earps: I’d trade Golden Glove for World Cup any day
Earps was England’s most consistent player throughout the tournament, saving the Lionesses time and again with world-class saves.
She walked away with the World Cup Golden Glove alongside her silver medal – but said she would trade the personal accolade for the tournament trophy.
“I can’t swear, but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks. Not [feeling] great,” she told Sky Sports News.
“I don’t think that [making people proud] really hits right now, to be honest. I think it will in a couple of weeks, I hope we can look back and reflect.
“I know getting to a World Cup final is an incredible achievement, but now, we’re disappointed. We’re competitors, we came here for the gold medal and we were so close. We just fell short.
“We’ve overcome a lot of adversity to be in this position. I’m really proud of the team for that and I think there’s more levels to go as well.
“Of course I’m proud of that achievement [the Golden Glove], it’s hard to achieve. But I would trade that for a gold medal any day. Just gutted that we fell short.”
Bright: We’re heartbroken
England captain Millie Bright was also emotional after the defeat, telling BBC Sport: “It’s really hard to take. We gave everything, hand on heart.
“First half we weren’t at our best. We showed our fight, showed our character. We had chances today, we hit the bar, and obviously they put their chance in the back of the net.
“There was a lot of belief. We’ve been 1-0 down in games before, we’ve bounced back, we never give in. It’s hard to take, but it’s football – we’re heartbroken.
“The girls are unbelievable. We had a lot of critics at the start of this tournament, a few stopped believing, but we never stopped believing in ourselves. Even today we had full belief. We’ve made it to a World Cup final, in a few weeks we’ll look back and really appreciate this day.”
Bonmati: We deserve it
Aitana Bonmati has been crucial to Spain’s success and was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player at this Women’s World Cup.
“I’m so proud because we did a great tournament. We go for it, but also we enjoyed it. We deserve it,” she said.
The Barcelona midfielder was one of the 15 players who refused to compete under Spain head coach Jorge Vilda last September, but was allowed back in the squad for the World Cup.
“Everyone knew the goal at the beginning of the preparation of the tournament. Everyone is competitive, everyone is strong mentally to win. We have been working in a lot of years ago for this moment and we have the trophy,” added Bonmati.
How Twitter reacted
Redknapp: Their talent has been exceptional
Former England and Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp reflected on the impact of England women’s success.
“Winning the Euros and getting to the final of a World Cup is an incredible achievement. [They’ve] inspired so many people, girls, boys as well, everybody’s looked at this. Their talent has been exceptional,” said Redknapp.
“It’s heartbreaking for them and they’re going to be hurting so badly, but they should also be so proud of what they’ve achieved. The manager and the players, it’s been an incredible achievement all around, and they’ll get welcomed so kindly when they get back.
“It’s so disappointing, as we were watching the game we were cheering, just hoping for one moment. We thought when the penalty was saved that was going to be it. It wasn’t to be, but they’ve been incredible in this tournament,” Redknapp added.