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England show growth despite similar exit four years on

And so it was, four years ago, when the ball skipped off of Laura Bassett’s toe and arrowed into Karen Bardsley’s top corner; England had come so far and gotten so close just to falter at the last hurdle. Four years later, considerably closer to home, with the nation watching, the Lionesses once again, came so close to the final before tumbling at the last.

There was no last-minute heartbreak, England had had their chances during the 90 minutes, but spent the last hour chasing the game. An equaliser ruled out for an offside and a saved penalty the two that will circle in the minds of the players and fans tonight and tomorrow.

The tournament had been chalk and cheese with the one four years ago but, despite the semi-final exit, England had come further than many would have expected. The Lionesses went a goal down ten minutes in but hit back to level the scores within ten minutes, for 90 minutes they matched the world champions. Athleticism and physicality were the hallmarks of the game and both teams gave as good as they got, just as both made similar errors.

It might have been another semi-final exit but if the England team from four years ago had been put in the match, they wouldn’t have even gotten close to an equaliser. The team has progressed, but whether it can go further and finally bridge the gap to reach the final remains to be seen.

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