Women's World Cup 2015: Which England players impressed?

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport

England boss Mark Sampson came to Canada with the aim of winning the Women's World Cup - and although his side fell short of that target they did make history during their month-long stay.

They achieved the best performance by a senior England side since the 1966 World Cup winning team by defeating Germany for the first time on Saturday to ensure that they finished the tournament in third place.

The squad caught the attention of the nation through their committed displays and the strength of their character, with several players overcoming adversity to succeed in Canada.

So how did the manager and the players rate over the course of the tournament?

Manager - Mark Sampson - 9/10

Awesome England deserve win - Mark Sampson

He has been called the 'tinkerman' and compared to the likes of Rafael Benitez, Jose Mourinho and Sam Allardyce, but the former Bristol Academy boss with no previous World Cup experience has undoubtedly been one of the success stories during England's journey.

England failed to get out of their group at Euro 2013 under Hope Powell and squad morale was at a low ebb. Sampson has managed to get his squad pulling in the same direction and the victory over Germany - a team that defeated England 3-0 last November - shows how quickly the Welshman has learned about the international game.

His insistence on changing the team and tactics has led to mistakes but he has also been astute enough to correct them during matches and saw his side gain momentum throughout the tournament before they were cruelly beaten in the semi-final by Japan.

Sampson made no apologies for his team playing in a direct manner. Success was more important than tactics when it came to inspiring a nation, he said, and in that sense, he was right. If there was one annoyance, it was his economy with the truth concerning player injuries. As per his favourite saying, he has put England "in a good place".

Goalkeeper - Karen Bardsley - 6.5/10

A mixed tournament for the United-States-born goalkeeper, whose mistakes contributed to goals for Mexico and Canada, while some will say the 30-year-old could have done better for goals conceded against France and Norway too.

However, the Manchester City goalkeeper made a crucial save against Colombia just before half-time with England 2-0 up and against Norway when the last-16 tie was in the balance. She also made crucial saves in the third-place win over Germany.

Defenders - Laura Bassett - 8/10

Bassett: I'm heartbroken and devastated

Notts County centre-back Bassett will be remembered for her injury-time own-goal in the defeat against Japan, yet her team-mates are correct in saying it will not be what comes to define one of the strongest personalities in the squad.

The victory over Germany ensured the 31-year-old finished the tournament with a smile on her face after a typically rugged performance where she stood up to the world's number one team.

Lucy Bronze - 8/10

Lucy Bronze
England players celebrate after Lucy Bronze scored a spectacular goal against Norway

England's star of the tournament. Bronze started the World Cup on the left-wing against France and then reverted to right-back where she announced herself on the world stage with a stunning winner against Norway before heading in against Canada. Bronze, 23, said she prefers defending to scoring, but Sampson is right to say the Manchester City player has the potential to be "one of the best right-backs in the world".

Alex Greenwood - 7/10

The Liverpool-born left-back, 21, played her part in the win over Mexico by setting up Karen Carney's goal, although she was at fault for Colombia's late consolation. This will have been a huge learning experience and she showed her growing promise with an assured display against Germany.

Steph Houghton - 8/10

Steph Houghton
Captain Steph Houghton headed England level in their last-16 tie against Norway, which England won 2-1

Saved her best performance for Saturday's play-off match, where she played a key part in ending England's woeful record against the Germans by clearing one chance off the line and blocking another close-range shot that looked destined to beat Bardsley.

The skipper formed a solid partnership with Bassett throughout the tournament and also scored a crucial goal when England went behind in the last-16 win over Norway. Sometimes guilty of just lumping the ball forward, but that is probably more to do with the manager's demands.

Claire Rafferty - 7/10

After coming back from three cruciate knee injuries this was a tour de force from the Chelsea left-back, who also works as an analyst for Deutsche Bank in the City of London.

The kind of gritty defender England needed when they were hanging on to leads, the 26-year-old was unfortunate to concede a penalty in the semi-final against Japan for a push which was outside the box.

Midfielders - Katie Chapman - 6/10

Chapman looked out her depth against France and was a surprise inclusion against Norway but proved her value when she was pushed further up the pitch and started hassling the Norway midfield.

While providing much-needed solidity to the England midfield, and crucial headers in defence, the 33-year-old Chelsea player still struggles with her passing, which can sometimes put England on the back foot.

Jade Moore - 8/10

Jade Moore
Jade Moore played in every England match at the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada

You would never have known it was the 24-year-old's first World Cup, but as she said in an impressive display in front of the media, hers is an "England story" after representing her country since the age of 14. For a woman who had been diagnosed with two holes in her heart as a youngster, she was energetic and purposeful - and the first player to disrupt opposition counter-attacks. Has cemented her place in the team.

Jill Scott - 7/10

Jill Scott's alternative guide to some of her England team mates.

Started the tournament poorly against France but proved the game-changer against Norway when she was introduced from the bench.

Unfortunately, the Manchester City midfielder missed England's best chance when the Lionesses were on top in the second half against Japan and still needs to be more sensible with her positioning rather than chasing the ball around.

Fara Williams - 8/10

Fara Williams
Fara Williams converted penalties in the group match against Colombia and the semi-final v Japan

Scored the penalty which helped England seal third place, her third goal of the tournament. The 31-year-old record caps holder was at her best against teams when England played more possession-based football rather than getting it forward quickly but she was nerveless from 12 yards and set up another two goals.

Forwards - Eniola Aluko - 6/10

Made up for her disappointment in not taking part in England's knockout games by making a huge impact after coming on against Germany. The 28-year-old's pace turned the German defence and she can feel like she played her part in earning a bronze medal. The Chelsea striker can perhaps feel justly aggrieved she was not given further chances.

Karen Carney - 7/10

Karen Carney
Karen Carney scored the decisive goal as England got their first victory by defeating Mexico 2-1

Played a crucial part in England qualifying second in their group with two goals but faded in the knockout stages as her lack of fitness told following injury. The Birmingham forward, 27, fell foul of Sampson becoming more direct as England went deeper into the tournament but proved a threat against Germany.

Toni Duggan - 7/10

Toni Duggan
Toni Duggan hit the crossbar during England's semi-final defeat by Japan

You can always see what Duggan is trying to do: get herself into a position to shoot, and in that sense she will always keep defenders on their toes. Although the 23-year-old almost grabbed a winner against Japan, she failed to get on the scoresheet in Canada. The Manchester City striker earns credit for her work-rate, which helped to pave the way for wins over Norway, Colombia and Mexico.

Fran Kirby - 6/10

Fran Kirby
England boss Mark Sampson dubbed Fran Kirby 'Mini Messi' after she scored against Mexico

Fired England's tournament into life with the team's first goal of the World Cup against Mexico and was taken into the nation's heart after scoring the day before her late mother's birthday. After that, the 22-year-old did not live up to the 'Mini Messi' tag bestowed on her by Sampson and struggled to deliver her dribbling game on the artificial turf. Did not feature in the knockout stages but the Reading forward is one for the future.

Jodie Taylor - 7/10

Taylor was not fit at the start of the tournament, despite Sampson's insistence to the contrary. When she made her first World Cup start, against host nation Canada, she scored after 11 minutes.

The only shame is that she wasn't ready to contribute at an earlier stage. At 29, she could be a late bloomer for England.

Other squad members

Goalkeeper: Siobhan Chamberlain - 6/10

Deputised capably when replacing Bardsley in the second half of the Canada quarter-final, her smiling presence adding assurance as the hosts pinned England back.

Defender: Alex Scott - 6/10

Has had to play second fiddle to Bronze after being a regular at right-back for the last 10 years. Solid if unspectacular.

Defender: Casey Stoney - 6/10

Played with freedom against Colombia in what is likely to be her last tournament. Was assured next to Houghton too.

Defender: Jo Potter - 6/10

Played a bit part in the tournament but against Germany added strength to England's defence while playing in a three-player centre-back line.

Midfielder: Jordan Nobbs - 4/10

Jordan Nobbs
Jordan Nobbs's tournament came to an early end because of a hamstring injury

Like Taylor, had to hide her hamstring injury behind Sampson's smokescreen and the vice-captain made a terrible decision to reveal on social media that her World Cup was over two hours before the Canada quarter-final. Nobbs blamed it on a "third-party" but she must take responsibility. Played well against Colombia, but few will remember her for that.

Striker: Lianne Sanderson - 5/10

Barely featured but like Aluko, made her presence felt by earning the penalty which led to England's winner against Germany.

Striker: Ellen White - 6/10

Hard-working but did not make a huge impression. Drew a decent save in the Japan quarter-final but will be happy to return to the international stage after a serious knee injury threatened to scupper her World Cup chances.

Goalkeeper: Carly Telford

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