England booked their place in the World Cup knockout stages after beating a resolute Argentina thanks to Jodie Taylor’s first goal in 14 months.
Phil Neville’s side looked as though they would pay for Nikita Parris’ missed first-half penalty, which was saved by the brilliant Vanina Correa after Alex Greenwood was tripped.
The Argentine goalkeeper also denied Beth Mead, Parris and Taylor, but had no chance in stopping Euro 2017’s golden boot winner, as she tapped in Mead’s low cross after 61 minutes.
- Relive the action from Le Havre
- Rate the players: England v Argentina
- England camp ‘having time of our lives’ – Neville
The victory for England, who are ranked third in the world – 34 places above Argentina – means they qualify for the second round and can seal top spot in Group D with a point against Japan in their final game on Wednesday.
In front of a crowd of 20,294 in the industrial city of Le Havre, it was also the first time England have won their first two World Cup matches.
But they were made to battle for it against a determined Argentina, who won their first ever World Cup point in their opening draw with 2011 champions Japan and have had to overcome hardships in the last few years.
Taylor comes to England’s rescue again
Neville said that he was prepared for a game which would evoke the footballing “history and rivalry” between the two countries, and expected Argentina to defend with vigour and passion.
So it was no surprise that England started as if they were eager to score early on, but were often let down by a poor final ball.
Mead was guilty of that on several occasions, yet she and Greenwood were the source of many England attacks down the left. That was in contrast to the Lionessess’ opening game, when Parris and Lucy Bronze thrived down the right.
Despite those early lapses, it was Mead who twice broke Argentina’s resistance. The Arsenal winger played in Greenwood before she was tripped by Ruth Bravo, leading to Parris’s spot-kick.
The England winger, who had buried a penalty against Scotland in England’s opening game, this time went the other way and struck it with less venom, allowing Correa to tip it on to the post.
The Argentine goalkeeper also stuck out a leg to deny Mead before the break, and denied Parris again after the newly-signed Lyon forward struck a booming shot after a free-kick was cleared.
As the game reached the hour mark, it seemed as if Correa’s goal was impenetrable, but the latter of two flowing moves led to Taylor’s goal and the 33-year-old, who had not scored since a World Cup qualifier in April 2018 – or in 363 minutes of football – celebrated her 18th England goal with enthusiasm.
Having scored five times at Euro 2017 where England reached the semi-finals and once at the 2015 World Cup, where England finished third, she once again showed she has an appetite for the big occasion, which may prove crucial as England seek to win their first major tournament.
Argentina show their ‘rebel spirit’
Argentina, who did not have a team for two years between 2015 and 2017 after a lack of backing from their federation, are appearing in their first World Cup for 12 years.
Back in 2007 they lost 6-1 to England, but they are a far more competitive outfit now, despite not enjoying the salaries or support of their opponents, who Neville described as being “blessed”.
That gulf in resources was not matched on the pitch, however, as Carlos Borrello’s well-drilled side got players behind the ball and defended stoutly with the kind of “rebel spirit” that their manager had spoken of prior to the game.
That was summed up by Correa, who palmed Parris’ penalty onto the post after 28 minutes, and then superbly stopped Mead’s effort before making her best save to deny Parris again.
Argentina’s first effort on goal was after 21 minutes, an overhit free-kick which Carly Telford, making her debut World Cup appearance at the age of 31, easily gathered.
They also only had 24% possession, yet forward Sole Jaimes and number 10 Estefania Banini caused occasional problems for the England defence, and the team’s robust style certainly ruffled some of the England players.
Neville’s England, however, will be pleased to come through a tough test again, and give themselves a chance to rotate their squad for the final group game against Japan, who earlier beat Scotland 2-1 to sit second in the group on four points.
Player of the match – Vanina Correa (Argentina)
‘Patience was the key’
England manager Phil Neville on BBC One: “Jodie Taylor was phenomenal tonight.
“It should have been more, but I stood in the warm-up and saw their goalkeeper – she was unbelievable even in the warm-up. If you’re like that before the game you’re not always like that in the game, but she was outstanding. What you’ve seen tonight is an unbelievable goalkeeping performance.
“We want to beat Japan, they were outstanding against Scotland today.
“We’ll go to Nice now and get some sun on our backs. Our players and enjoying it, we’re having the time of our lives.”
England goalscorer Jodie Taylor: “It is a good performance today by the team and good win. I remember Beth Mead playing a perfect ball which landed right on my foot. I was in the right place at the right time.
“Patience was the key, we said it all week. We have had experience facing a block of defence through qualifying and got frustrated, but today we had the quality and it paid off.
“I went to the corner and saw Jordan Nobbs on punditry and I gave her a wave as well as some family. It was a special goal for them.”
England’s potential route
If England win the group, they take on the best third-placed side from either Group B, E or F (currently China, Cameroon or Chile).
A quarter-final in Le Havre would be next in store against the winner of a match between the runners-up of Group A and Group C (currently Norway and Australia).
If the Lionesses finish runners-up in the group, they take on the winner of Group E which is likely to be Canada or the Netherlands in Rennes.
A quarter-final in Valenciennes would follow against either the winner of Group C (Brazil, Italy or Australia) or the best third-placed team from Groups A (Norway/Nigeria), B (Spain/China) or F (likely Chile).
Scott sets England record – the stats
- England have won seven of their last eight Women’s World Cup games (W7 D0 L1), with all those of wins coming by a one-goal margin.
- England have now qualified for the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup in each of their five appearances (1995, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019).
- Argentina remain winless in all eight of their Women’s World Cup matches (W0 D1 L7), failing to score in six of those.
- Taylor scored her second Women’s World Cup goal and her first goal in any competition for England since April 2018, when she scored against Bosnia and Herzegovina in a World Cup qualifier.
- Argentina had just two shots, a joint-low in a 2019 Women’s World Cup match (also two for Thailand v USA); they also managed just one touch in the opposition box, the fewest of any team in a match at this tournament.
- England started a Women’s World Cup game without goalkeeper Karen Bardsley for the first time in the last three tournaments – Carly Telford made her World Cup debut.
- This was Jill Scott’s 14th start at the Women’s World Cup, the most by an England player in the competition – this game took her one clear of Fara Williams’ tally of 13 between 2007 and 2015.
Match ends, England 1, Argentina 0.
Second Half ends, England 1, Argentina 0.
Offside, England. Rachel Daly tries a through ball, but Jodie Taylor is caught offside.
Substitution, Argentina. Yael Oviedo replaces Sole Jaimes.
Substitution, England. Karen Carney replaces Francesca Kirby.
Corner, England. Conceded by Flor Bonsegundo.
Substitution, England. Rachel Daly replaces Nikita Parris.
Attempt saved. Nikita Parris (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lucy Bronze with a cross.
Nikita Parris (England) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Aldana Cometti (Argentina).
Substitution, England. Georgia Stanway replaces Beth Mead.
Substitution, Argentina. Vanesa Santana replaces Lorena Benítez.
Attempt saved. Mariana Larroquette (Argentina) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Foul by Beth Mead (England).
Adriana Sachs (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jill Scott (England).
Linda Bravo (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Jill Scott (England) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Alex Greenwood.
Agustina Barroso (Argentina) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Jade Moore (England) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Agustina Barroso (Argentina).
Substitution, Argentina. Mariana Larroquette replaces Estefanía Banini.
Corner, England. Conceded by Agustina Barroso.
Attempt missed. Jill Scott (England) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Beth Mead with a cross following a corner.
Corner, England. Conceded by Agustina Barroso.
Beth Mead (England) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Linda Bravo (Argentina).
Goal! England 1, Argentina 0. Jodie Taylor (England) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Beth Mead.
Corner, England. Conceded by Adriana Sachs.
Attempt saved. Jodie Taylor (England) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Nikita Parris with a cross.
Foul by Beth Mead (England).
Flor Bonsegundo (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Nikita Parris (England) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Stephanie Houghton.
Attempt blocked. Jade Moore (England) header from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Alex Greenwood with a cross.
Alex Greenwood (England) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Flor Bonsegundo (Argentina).
Offside, Argentina. Agustina Barroso tries a through ball, but Sole Jaimes is caught offside.
Second Half begins England 0, Argentina 0.
First Half ends, England 0, Argentina 0.
Jade Moore (England) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.