There was unconfined joy for England last night as they battered Norway 3-0 in the World Cup quarter-finals, and even had the luxury of failing to score a penalty through Nikita Parris. It was a night which showed why Phil Neville’s side are a force to be feared - with big players producing big moments.
Jill Scott scored after three minutes, having now netted in three separate World Cups; Ellen White made it two to claim her fifth of the tournament and move level with Alex Morgan and Sam Kerr at the front of the Golden Boot race; and Lucy Bronze smashed home a wonderful third, adding to an earlier assist and pre-assist, to suggest she might just be at the very top of the game. At least that was how an excitable Neville saw it. “She is the best player in the world,” he said. “She should win Ballon d’Or, 100 per cent, You saw a player at the top of her game.”
Neville now has to plot a route past the winners of tonight’s semi-final between France and USA if he is to become the first England manager to reach a senior World Cup final since Alf Ramsey in 1966. Luckily he isn’t letting the attention get to him, as he gently and humbly opined last night:
We’re playing a type of football that no one’s ever played before. I think that will get us through the semi. I’m not getting carried away but I said to them in the huddle: are you ready to win the World Cup? They have glazed eyes. Something is happening, we can’t hide that. We can’t wait until Tuesday. I was brought in to get us through a semi-final.
“Twelve months ago we set out our objectives. All I wanted my players to say was that they wanted to win the World Cup but they said they wanted more, to create a name people would relate to, badass women. They were thinking bigger and that really knocked me out of my stride. I think we’re getting to that legacy moment.”
Steady on Philip, there’s another game to go yet, and if you hadn’t noticed England are becoming specialists at suffering semi-final disappointment. England lost to Japan four years ago thanks to that heartbreaking own goal from Laura Bassett in stoppage time, and since then the men’s team have fallen at the same stage at the 2018 World Cup and the Nations League. Semi-finals have proved a pretty effective prophylactic against English success of late.
Mind you, if you are playing football the likes of which the world has never seen, what’s to worry about?
Neville has been an excitable presence in recent days following his wildly over-the-top condemnation of Cameroon after the last-16 encounter. The Warm-Up is slightly concerned to see what happens when he goes all the way up to 11. But that’s where he will be heading on Tuesday night if England finally can book their place in a World Cup final again.
2. VAR or no VAR?
Sadio Mane of Senegal in acts after action during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) group C soccer match between Senegal and Algeria
Image credit: Getty Images
The past couple of weeks have seen no end of complaints about the presence of VAR in football. But yesterday, Senegal were ruing its absence as they lost 1-0 to Algeria in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Sadio Mane was brought down in the second half in an incident which looked like a penalty. But with VAR only being used from the quarter-finals onwards in Egypt, Senegal had no recourse to get a second look at it.
VAR: ruining games even when it's not involved.
3. Wan-Bissaka images leak
Chalk this one down as a done deal. Images have emerged of Aaron Wan-Bissaka in various bits of Manchester United kit ahead of his £50m (!!!!!!) move from Crystal Palace.
Well, there’s no going back now.
IN OTHER NEWS
“Who’s your favourite United player little guy?...”
Brutal. Simply brutal.
IN THE CHANNELS
Yesterday, adidas briefly posted a video on their YouTube channel before swiftly deleting it. And as a statement of intent around returning as Arsenal’s kit manufacturers, it’s pretty glorious.
Call The Warm-Up cynical, but after Ian Wright, who stars in this ad, ‘accidentally’ posted an image of Lacazette and Aubameyang in the new kits in May, again before swiftly deleting it, we spot a deliberate marketing ploy. And it appears to be working judging by the fevered response on social media.
Today we take you all the way back to 1966 and the last time England won a senior World Cup semi-final. Two goals from Bobby Charlton saw off Portugal, who would have been automatically disqualified anyway for their keeper wearing number three. Also featuring a ludicrous handball from Jack Charlton.
There’s no fewer than three matches at the Africa Cup of Nations live on Eurosport 2 today, with Tunisia v Mali (3:30pm), Morocco v Ivory Coast (6pm) and South Africa v Namibia (9pm).
In addition, we will have live text commentary of the Women’s World Cup quarter-final between France and USA and the Copa America quarter-final between Venezuela v Argentina.
Images have leaked of Marcus Foley sat at his desk so it's no surprise to learn that he will be back on Monday...