Mark Sampson hails potential importance of England's win over Spain

24 July 2017 07:54

England manager Mark Sampson feels his side's 2-0 win against Group D rivals Spain could prove to be a "pivotal" moment for them at Euro 2017.

Fran Kirby gave England a dream start by scoring inside two minutes and Jodie Taylor added to the hat-trick she scored on Wednesday in their 6-0 win against Scotland by sealing victory with a late second.

The Lionesses were made to work harder than expected though in torrential rain in Breda as they edged closer to the quarter-finals against technically gifted opponents who dominated possession.

"If you look at the overall picture it's a massive result and if we do go far we'll look back on tonight as pivotal," Sampson told a post-match press conference, quoted on UEFA.com.

"A big thank you to the players. I'm in awe of this group of players for their work ethic and desire to make the country proud.

"Sometimes the game doesn't go as you'd perfectly like it to go, but I'm damn happy tonight and so will the fans be.

"The spirit, resilience and will to win were all there tonight. It's a big three points.

"Spain gave us problems in the build-up phase but (goalkeeper) Karen (Bardsley) didn't have saves to make."

England benefited from Italian referee Carina Vitulano's controversial decision to change her mind after appearing to award Spain a penalty for handball as they trailed 1-0 in the 75th minute, while Sampson feels his players are still getting better.

"If you've got a great defence, striker and goalkeeper you're going to be a decent team," he said.

"The players have improved incredibly. We saw a different side to the team tonight and they showed their desire to keep moving forwards in this tournament.

"I want to thank our incredible supporters tonight, too. They were amazing. I hope we see more now against Portugal, too. They make a massive difference."

Spain had England chasing and harrying for large parts of the game and Sampson expects them to be a major force in the tournament.

"Spain are a much improved team under Jorge Vilda," he added.

"We've seen them grow and improve. To see that performance tonight - it would be no surprise to see them go far in this tournament. We now wish Spain all the best."

Vilda was upbeat in defeat and although his side failed to trouble Bardsley he said they had proved they are a match for anyone.

"We dominated but we could've done with creating more chances," he said.

"We need to remember that we played against one of the best teams in the world, who'll always hurt you.

"We'll correct the errors and we'll continue as we are and I genuinely believe that in this way we can beat anyone.

"The group is open and our objective is to qualify for the quarters. The important thing is to prepare well for Scotland now."

Spain take on Scotland, who sit bottom of Group D, on Thursday while England face Portugal on the same day.

Scotland are still waiting for their first win in a major tournament after losing 2-1 to Portugal on Sunday.

Source: PA


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