FARA Williams’s extra-time penalty ensured England beat Germany for the first time in 31 years to finish third at the Women’s World Cup.
The performance was the second best by an England team after the 1966 win by the men’s side and eclipsed the 1990 men’s team, who finished fourth in Italy.
The Lionesses had not beaten two-time World Cup winners Germany in 20 attempts but they more than matched their opponents and won the spot-kick in the second period of extra-time after substitute Lianne Sanderson was brought down by Tabea Kemme.
Williams, who is England’s record cap holder and was homeless at one point in her England career, beat retiring German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer for her third penalty of the tournament.
It brought to a close a superb campaign for England, who finished as the top European nation and are now set to climb from sixth in the world rankings after a tournament during which they generated strong and well-deserved support at home.
However, they were thankful for a glaring miss from Bianca Schmidt four minutes from the end as they held on to their slender lead.
The result was tribute to the progress that England have made under Mark Sampson after the Welshman took over 18 months ago. It also put a positive spin on their campaign after the cruel 2-1 semi-final defeat following Laura Bassett’s injury-time own goal against Japan.
The team are set to receive an additional £2,000 for winning the bronze medal, taking their World Cup bonus payments to £14,000.
Sampson’s education as England head coach has now come full circle, following a 3-0 defeat by the eight-time European champions last November.