Women's European Championship

Women's Euro 2017: England close to quarters after win over Spain

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport in Breda

England benefited from a bizarre refereeing decision to beat Spain and take a huge step towards the Women's Euro 2017 quarter-finals.

In rain-soaked conditions in the Netherlands, Spain dominated the game with 78% possession, but came up against an England side who were resolute in defence and had strikers who scored from two shots on goal.

Fran Kirby took Ellen White's pass and scored at the near post in the second minute, before Jodie Taylor wrapped the game up five minutes from time with her fourth Euro 2017 goal from Jordan Nobbs' flick.

But that only told half the story as Spain were denied a potential equaliser before Taylor's goal when referee Carina Vitulano awarded a penalty for White's handball but then confused the whole stadium when she changed her mind after deciding it was accidental.

Although the result was harsh on Spain, who played some brilliant football, Mark Sampson's team were rewarded for their ruthlessness in attack to add to their record 6-0 win over Scotland in their opening game.

They now only need a draw in their final group match against Portugal to guarantee their progression and a position as group winners.

That could mean they avoid France in the quarter-finals, a team England have not beaten since 1974.

Referee decisions cause confusion

Before the refereeing confusion ensued around the penalty, England had cause to feel aggrieved themselves when Millie Bright was denied what looked like a clear goal when she was found by Nobbs at the back post from a free-kick and headed into the top corner.

The assistant's flag was raised for offside, but with Bright clearly onside, it was perhaps adjudged that Lucy Bronze interfered with play by running towards the Spanish goalkeeper.

"The ball was two feet above my head, so I'm not sure how I could have interfered with that," said the England defender.

That all paled into insignificance compared to the Spanish team's bewilderment in the second half when the referee changed her mind about the spot-kick.

It could have been seen as a harsh penalty decision as White slipped when the ball was crossed into the box, with it skipping up and striking her arm. But the referee was unequivocal as she pointed to the spot. Confusion then reigned.

After White, Bronze and skipper Steph Houghton spoke to the referee and the Spanish fans prepared for a potential equaliser, the whole stadium was then left baffled as a free-kick was awarded to England.

Ref was brave to change penalty call - Bronze

Referee Vitulano seemed to indicate she had not originally been aware the ball had deflected onto White's arm, rather than hitting it direct from the cross.

Commentating for BBC Radio 5 live, Jonathan Pearce said: "I don't think you can do that. The referee has changed her mind. The Spanish bench are furious, I have not seen anything like that before."

Asked about the incident afterwards, Spain coach Jorge Vilda said: "We have to accept the decisions of the referee and try to achieve our aim of getting three points in the next game."

England counter-attack pays dividends

After outplaying Scotland in their opening game, Spain's dominance of possession offered a completely different test and although England did not see the ball for long periods, their ruthlessness in front of goal paid off.

Had Bright's goal stood and Houghton kept a close-range shot down following more good work from Kirby, England could easily have been 3-0 up before Spain found their feet on a sodden pitch.

But after an exciting opening period, the game settled into one of attack versus defence as La Roja, ranked 13th in the world - eight places below England - showed why several experts have tipped them to succeed at Euro 2017.

Barcelona players Vicky Losada and Alexia Putellas and Atletico Madrid's Amanda Sampedro were brilliant throughout as they found space time and again between England's defence and midfield.

But Losada's first-minute miss when Houghton had slipped was symptomatic of their night.

England beat Spain - reaction

Scotland close to elimination after loss to Portugal - report

Player of the match - Millie Bright, England

Mille Bright
The England centre-back produced a commanding performance in only her second tournament game

Reaction - 'We needed a win to top the group'

England boss Mark Sampson told Channel 4: "It's a huge result. We'll look back and say this was a big moment for us.

"We had to find a way to win, and that's exactly what we did. We knew we needed a win to top the group, and that's a big one for us.

"I can't remember Karen Bardsley having to make a save. We'd have liked to have had more of the ball. But in the second half we got up to the ball quicker and got a bit more territory.

"We've got lessons to learn and we'll be better for Portugal. We'll get back, dry off and then think about Portugal."

England goalscorer Fran Kirby added: "I was nervous going through as I hadn't touched the ball yet! But luckily it came off.

"We knew that Spain would have more of the ball but we kept our shape, were disciplined and took our chances when they came. When Jodie Taylor goes one-on-one there is only one outcome."



Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Bardsley
  • 2Bronze
  • 5Houghton
  • 16Bright
  • 3Stokes
  • 11Moore
  • 4Scott
  • 7Nobbs
  • 23KirbySubstituted forChristiansenat 69'minutes
  • 18WhiteSubstituted forDugganat 79'minutes
  • 9TaylorSubstituted forPotterat 89'minutes


  • 6Potter
  • 8Christiansen
  • 10Williams
  • 13Chamberlain
  • 14Carney
  • 15Bassett
  • 17Parris
  • 19Duggan
  • 20Greenwood
  • 21Telford
  • 22Scott


Formation 3-1-4-2

  • 13Paños García-Villamil
  • 3Torrejón Moya
  • 5Pereira CejudoBooked at 69mins
  • 4Paredes HernándezBooked at 31mins
  • 15Meseguer Bellido
  • 7Corredera Rueda
  • 14Losada GómezSubstituted forGarcía Pérezat 73'minutes
  • 11Putellas Segura
  • 21OuahabiSubstituted forLatorre Viñalsat 89'minutes
  • 8Sampedro BustosSubstituted forTorrecilla Reyesat 89'minutes
  • 10Hermoso Fuentes


  • 1Gallardo Nunez
  • 2Jimenez Delgado
  • 6Torrecilla Reyes
  • 9Vilas Dono
  • 12Quiñones
  • 16López
  • 17García Pérez
  • 18Gonzalez Rodriguez
  • 19Latorre Viñals
  • 20León Cebrián
  • 22Caldentey Oliver
  • 23Nicart
Carina Vitulano

Match Stats

Home TeamEnglandAway TeamSpain
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, England 2, Spain Women 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, England 2, Spain Women 0.

  3. Post update

    Alexia Putellas (Spain Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Jill Scott (England).

  5. Post update

    Jenni Hermoso (Spain Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Jade Moore (England).

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Spain Women. Virginia Torrecilla replaces Amanda Sampedro.

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, Spain Women. Bárbara replaces Leila Ouahabi.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, England. Jo Potter replaces Jodie Taylor.

  10. Post update

    Alexia Putellas (Spain Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Jordan Nobbs (England).

  12. Goal!

    Goal! England 2, Spain Women 0. Jodie Taylor (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Jenni Hermoso (Spain Women).

  14. Post update

    Jill Scott (England) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Marta Corredera (Spain Women).

  16. Post update

    Isobel Christiansen (England) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Jill Scott (England) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jordan Nobbs.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, England. Toni Duggan replaces Ellen White.

  19. Post update

    Olga García (Spain Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Jill Scott (England).

As It Stood




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