Mark Sampson

Euro 2017: Mark Sampson ‘immensely proud’ of England display vs Spain

Ellen White thought she cost England a priceless victory when she handled in the penalty box late on, but praised Carina Vitulano for making the “right decision” after the referee overturned her initial call to award Spain a penalty in their crucial Euro 2017 clash.

Ultimately, England moved a step closer to the knock-out stages in the Netherlands with a gutsy 2-0 win but Spain will rightly feel aggrieved when, with the score 1-0, Vitulano pointed to the spot when White handled the ball.

But under the new laws of the game, any ball which deflects off the leg and onto the hand is not an offence – and Vitulano corrected her initial decision, giving England the momentum to go and secure the three points through Jodie Taylor’s strike which added to Fran Kirby’s early breakthrough.

The win moves England to within a point of the knock-out stages and they will take plenty of confidence from this victory against a major rival, but it could have been so different had Vitulano upheld her initial decision.

“The ball came at me quite quickly, it came off my leg and hit my arm and based on the new laws that is not a penalty,” said Birmingham City forward White.

“The referee held her hands up and said I have made a mistake, so it was a great relief for me and the girls said that there is a new law.

“We had a meeting about their new decisions, and I am pleased. They [Spain] had a lot of possession but we tried hard to stop them scoring goals.

“We thought we could get them on the counter-attack which we did, twice and it was a big win.”

This was a real test of character for England and they passed with flying colours, adding further confidence to a squad which already believes it can become European champions.

Kriby’s early goal got them off to a flying start and, when Millie Bright’s superb header was wrongly ruled out for offside, they were in the ascendancy.

But Spain, so comfortable in possession, took control and really put the Lionesses under the cosh in the second half.

However, Mark Sampson’s side were resilient and, when Spain’s heads bowed after the penalty confusion, Taylor popped up to settle the game.

“It was a tough performance and I think we showed a different side to this England team, it was a completely different game to the one we faced against Scotland,” White, 28, said.

“We had a massive togetherness and that is exciting. Spain are a great side, we can’t take that away from them but we are delighted with the three points and now we look forward to facing Portugal [on Thursday].”

SSE is an official partner of the England Women’s team and is proud to be the energy behind women’s football, supporting the game from grassroots through to international level. Follow us at @YourSSE

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