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United States 2 (Press 9, Morgan 31)>
England 1 (White 19)
United States 2 (Press 9, Morgan 31)
England once again found the semi finals of a major tournament a bridge too far as they went down to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the United States in Lyon.
The reigning world champions were deserved winners over the 90 minutes but England will look at moments of what might have been during the second half, particularly when a goal was disallowed for a marginal offside decision and a late Steph Houghton penalty was saved.
Phil Neville made three changes to his starting line up, one of which was enforced, with Carly Telford replacing the injured Karen Bardsley in goal, and Beth Mead and Rachel Daly coming into what was a bold attacking line up. The USA side saw one surprise, with star midfielder Megan Rapinoe missing the game through injury.
England found themselves under pressure early on and a corner not fully cleared saw the USA regain possession and Rose Lavelle nutmegged Millie Bright on the goal line and cut in past Demi Stokes before her shot was blocked by Carly Telford and Alex Morgan volleyed wildly over from the rebound.
The early warning signs were there with Tobin Heath looking dangerous and on nine minutes, she slid an accurate pass into the path of Kelley O'Hara who supplied a superb cross to the far post for an unmarked Christen Press to plant a firm header into the net.
Lavelle fired over from the edge of the area but England managed to rally and levelled the scores against the run of play. Keira Walsh's pass picked out Mead in space on the left and her cross was turned in from eight yards by Ellen White, to keep up her fine scoring record against their opponents.
USA hit back with the impressive Lavelle again trying her luck from the edge of the area with a powerful strike which was well saved by Telford. Two minutes later though, at the other end, Becky Sauerbrunn was left heaving a huge sigh of relief after slicing her clearance from a Walsh cross but the ball drifted inches wide of the post.
As the half hour arrived though, Lindsey Horan was left in space just outside the area and crossed for Morgan who got inside of Demi Stokes and planted a header past Telford to restore her side's lead.
Back came England with a swerving shot from distance by Walsh being clawed away by Naeher but too often they found themselves overrun in midfield and perhaps grateful to be only one goal behind as the half time whistle sounded.
England looked a lot tighter at the back and more compact after the break as they sought to get a foothold in the game and get back on terms.
There was a huge let off for England though just before the hour, as Telford's pass was intercepted by Press who elected to shoot instead of setting up a simple chance for Morgan and her effort drifted harmlessly wide.
England rode out a brief spell of pressure and at the midpoint of the second half, thought they had levelled the scores when Jill Scott flicked a pass into the path of White who showed great composure to finish but celebrations were cut short when a VAR review found her to be offside by the slenderest of margins.
The USA were not looking quite so dominant in the midfield area after losing Lavelle to injury but England, despite driving forward at every opportunity, were finding it hard to break down a now bolstered American defence, and too often their passing lacked the crispness of their opponents.
However with six minutes remaining, England were given a great opportunity to equalise as Ellen White went down whilst trying to get on the end of a low cross from Rachel Daly and after a lengthy VAR review, the challenge by Sauerbrunn was deemed worthy of a penalty. Contact had looked slight at best and, admittedly, a penalty looked a generous decision but England were not able to take advantage as Houghton's kick lacked power and Naeher was able to get down low to her right and save.
Things got even worse for England three minutes later as Bright was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Morgan and they were reduced to ten players.
USA brought on experienced duo Carli Lloyd and Ali Krieger late on and in seven minutes of added time, they were to the fore as their team ran down the clock and denied England any further chance of taking the game to extra time.
The USA can now look forward to taking on either Netherlands or Sweden in the Final on Sunday whilst England will attempt to pick up another bronze medal the day before. That will be no consolation to their dejected players though, who once again suffer the agony of falling just short of the final hurdle.
England: Carly Telford, Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh (sub Jade Moore 70mins), Steph Houghton, Millie Bright, Nikita Parris, Jill Scott, Ellen White, Rachel Daly (sub Georgia Stanway 88mins), Beth Mead (sub Fran Kirby 57mins).
United States: Alyssa Naeher, Kelley O'Hara (sub Ali Krieger 87mins), Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle (sub Samantha Mewis 64mins), Abby Dahlkemper, Lindsey Horan, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Tobin Heath (sub Carli Lloyd 79mins).
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