England may have suffered a 3-2 loss to Spain on Friday night, but manager Hope Powell will tell her players to reflect on past successes when they face Russia on Monday, writes Catherine Etoe.
Powell’s side were on an 11 match unbeaten run before losing to Sweden in a friendly last week and now Spain in their opening Euro 2013 match.
The result against Spain was the more critical, of course, and England must now pick up points against Russia to keep their Euro dream alive.
“It is about character now,” Powell said. “I’m confident in the players but equally they have to perform. We will remind them of the unbeaten record they had before we came to Sweden and look to recapture that. They know they have the capabilities to do that.”
At the Linkoping Arena on Friday, England showed flashes of their talent against a Spain side ranked 11 places below them in the world.
They twice came back from behind, with Eni Aluko pouncing to score moments after the outstanding Veronica Boquete had put Spain into an early lead, and Laura Bassett doing the same after Jennifer Hermoso had made it 2-1 late on.
But there wasn’t time to launch a third comeback after substitute Alexia Putellas forced the ball into the net off keeper Karen Bardsley in the 93rd minute.
“To go behind and come back, not once but twice, and then lose it in the dying seconds is crushing,” Powell said. “We were very nervous in the first half especially. We just didn’t perform. Our touch was off, there were too many unforced errors but give credit to Spain, they probably deserved it on the night.
“They have been playing well and drawing with Germany in qualifying gave them a lot of confidence. They came into the tournament probably not expecting to progress given their rating.”
The same cannot be said for Euro 2009 finalists England, but Powell says her “distraught” players can regroup ahead of an encounter with a Russian side who lost 3-1 to France in their opening match.
“We need to dig ourselves out of a hole,” Powell said. “We have two games left and if we want to progress then we know what we have to do. The players are not silly. They know they didn’t perform. There will be a few frank discussions now and we will have to right the wrongs. We will have to bounce back if we want to stay in this tournament.”
Spanish coach Ignacio Quereda was unsuprisingly more upbeat but still calm and measured about his team’s chances (and spoke through one of the most abysmal translators we’ve enjoyed the assistance of, at a major tournament finals)…
About the game:
“It was a crazy game at the end. We had problems with our defence but I think we deserved the win. Our philosophy is to play by controlling the ball. We create chances and sometimes we score and somtimes we don’t but we will continute to play in that way, controlling the ball and trying to control the game.
On his team’s ambitions now, having secured a win many thought unlikely:
“Our goal was simply to reach the finals of this tournament, which we did. Now we have to go a step further but we have already reached our goal.”
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