Goalkeeper Bardsley shines while Williams bags winner on overtime spot kick
By Gunnar Berndt
Third Place Match: England vs. Germany 1-0 (OT)
England picked the perfect time for its first ever win over mighty Germany in 21 attempts, defeating the top-ranked team in the world 1-0 in the third-place game behind an overtime penalty kick by Fara Williams. The victory was powered in large parts by a Player of the Match performance from English goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.
Head Coach Silvia Neid’s Germans dominated the opening stages of the highly entertaining contest and nearly took the lead when a cross in from the left was headed goalward by Lena Petermann and tipped around the left upright courtesy of a fingertip save by Bardsley. The 2003 and 2007 champs continued to press and they came even closer to scoring when Tabea Kemme’s in-swinger from the left was headed back across goal by Bianca Schmidt and nodded on by England defender Jo Potter for a near own-goal, forcing a spectacular goal-line clearance by teammate Steph Houghton.
After Germany striker Celia Sasic’s weak attempt was easily gathered by Bardsley, the Three Lionesses created several chances of their own, Houghton having the best look from close range but failing to make contact after excellent work down the right flank by Lucy Bronze.
Germany were back on the attack after the break, Sara Däbritz’s first-time attempt on a cross from the right forcing Bardsley to leave her feet and push the ball around the left post, followed by a Kemme attempt from just outside the box that whistled narrowly wide of the frame.
Jill Scott should have given England the lead at the other end after being put through by Eniola Aluko, but the midfielder’s hesitation allowed the opposition defense to recover. The ball subsequently fell back to Aluko and the substitute moved it to the right side of the penalty area, from where it was crossed in by Karen Carney, Scott’s full extension failing to produce full contact on what would have been a simple tap-in from the doorstep. Williams had another chance for England, as her powerful drive appeared on target until it was blocked by a defender.
Midfielder Williams finally did find the net following a flurry of German corner kicks in the first half of overtime, Lianne Sanderson being pulled down inside the box by Kemme to send her teammate to the spot for the game-winning tally. Bianca Schmidt had a golden opportunity to level the match in the closing stages, but her close-range diving header on an Alexandra Popp cross from the left missed badly wide. It would be the final noteworthy action, as England held on for third place in the tournament.