Alnwick’s Lucy Bronze and her teammates have become the second most successful England side of all time after beating Germany 1-0 to finish third at the World Cup.
The 23-year-old, who is in the running to be named the player of the tournament, put in another superb performance for England, who scored from the penalty spot through Fara Williams after Lianne Sanderson was dragged down in the second half of extra-time.
In a cagey and goalless first half, the Lionesses’ best chance came when Bronze skipped round two defenders on the right side of the penalty area and pulled it back to captain Steph Houghton, who couldn’t connect properly. The Manchester City defender was also involved in the build-up of England’s clearest opportunity after the break as Eni Aluko fed Jill Scott, who took too long to get her shot away, as the clock ran out and extra-time beckoned.
And it was then that the Lionesses struck to make history by not only beating Germany for the first time, but also becoming the most successful English football team aside from the famous men’s side that won in 1966. The Germans have been European champions six times in a row and England had not beaten them in 20 meetings prior to tonight.
The Lionesses were in the third-place play-off following Wednesday’s heartbreaking 92nd-minute semi-final defeat by Japan.
Nonetheless, the former Duchess’s Community High School pupil and Alnwick Town Junior has been recognised for her performances as an individual, being named in the shortlist for the Golden Ball – the award given to the best player at the Women’s World Cup.
On Thursday, an emotional Bronze admitted that the nature of the semi-final defeat would hurt for a long time, but said the adidas Golden Ball nomination has left her speechless, especially as she is the only England player to make the list.
The other shortlisted players are Saori Ariyoshi (Japan), Amandine Henry (France), Julie Johnston (USA), Carli Lloyd (USA), Aya Miyama (Japan), Megan Rapinoe (USA) and Celia Sasic (Germany). The winner, as well as a second and third-placed player, will be announced after the final on Sunday between Japan and the USA (00:00 BST, Monday).