There was heartbreak for the Young Lionesses yesterday as they lost 2-0 to Futoshi Ikeda’s Japan side. England, who had cruised through the group stage and quarter final with three wins and a draw, were outplayed by the Asian side as they looked to progress to the final for the first time.
Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp were the only two City players to start their first group game against reigning champions Korea DPR, with defender Esme Morgan and goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck on the bench.
Both forwards played well and Hemp who led the line, was influential in the game play, outsmarting her opponents, making runs in behind and really showing why Manchester City and Nick Cushing wanted to bring her to the club. Stanway also impressed and netted a goal in the 61st minute along with the University of North Carolina forward Alessia Russo; who scored twice.
Morgan and Roebuck were unused subs while Hemp was subbed off for Charlie Wellings and also named Player of the Match.
Speaking to She Kicks Magazine after the game, Russo stated how no one would get carried away ahead of their match with Brazil: “We’ve got two tough games now and how we actually recover from this game. We can’t get too caught up in the moment because we know tough games are ahead so now we have to focus and rest”.
The Brazil game started well with Stanway scoring a penalty within the first eleven minutes, Hemp starting on the bench, alongside Morgan and Roebuck; with Wellings taking the forward’s place.
England seemed to struggle this time round, not being given the freedom they wanted by the Brazilians and struggling to create the chances, “That’s just football” Stanway said speaking to Our Game Magazine after; “Some days you have more of the ball, some you don’t. In tournament football you have to be able to conserve energy and last across a certain amount of games and that’s kind of what we did”. Georgia herself struggled to get the service she wanted and was played in a more midfield role than perhaps usual for international games.
Brazil had been pegged back for the most of the game and it looked as though the Young Lionesses would have won if it wasn’t for Ariadina, whose shot from outside the box evaded Sandy MacIver in goal.
Korea DPR had beaten Mexico the same day and left England knowing a draw would be enough for them to progress with a win also guaranteeing the group’s top spot. Lose and they would be reliant on the other group match.
Lauren Hemp was the star of their last group game against Mexico. After going 1-0 down at half time thanks to a goal from Jacqueline Ovalle, England picked themselves up and fought spectacularly for their place in the quarter finals.
Alessia Russo netted England’s equaliser just after half time and there was no stopping the Young Lionesses then as Chloe Kelly scored four minutes later, Hemp and Stanway netting one each before Lauren went on to score twice more and bag a hat-trick. The City forward was also named Player of the Match for a second time.
The Dutch awaited and England found themselves 1-0 down once again after Victoria Pelova scored in the twelfth to give the Netherlands the advantage, however it wouldn’t stay like that for long as Georgia scored her fourth of the tournament eight minutes later; shortly followed by another three minutes after. Stanway was Player of the Match and the U20’s headed into the semi finals for the first time at that particular international level.
Japan was to be a bit more of a difficult task as England soon found out. The team struggled to get off to a good start with Georgia and Lauren being surrounded by Japanese players every time they touched the ball.
The opposition took the lead through Riko Ueki who evaded captain Grace Fisk and Anna Patten, sending the ball into the bottom corner; MacIver unable to get a touch.
England found some hope with Alessia Russo down the right, but were still unable to get crosses into the box, Fuka Nagano tracking back and cutting out the shots. Hemp also tried her luck to weave through the Japanese defence but had the ball taken away from her as players swarmed around the forward.
The task was made more difficult when Hinata Miyazawa’s shot from range hit the crossbar of Sandy MacIver’s goal, forcing the keeper into a save which she couldn’t recover fast enough from and Jun Endo headed home.
After half time the team tried and tried to find a goal but Japan stood solid. The introductions of Rinsola Babajide and Niamh Charles for Alessia Russo and Chloe Kelly arguably helped England as Babajide was quick to get in behind Japan’s defence and attempt to get crosses in. However the Liverpool duo’s appearances was perhaps a little late from Mo Marley as Japan went on to win the game and make the final; England the third place play-off.
England will play France in the fight for bronze after Spain beat the 2017 U19 Euro finalists 1-0. The game will be on Eurosport from 3pm on the 24th August.