Earps and Toone feature as England suffer narrow defeat

Sunday 20 August 2023 13:32

Manchester United's Mary Earps and Ella Toone both started in the 2023 Women's World Cup final on Sunday, as England were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Spain in Sydney.

The Reds duo were selected in Sarina Wiegman's starting XI for the clash at Stadium Australia, with United captain Katie Zelem among the substitutes, and both played their part in an enthralling game that had maintained tension from the first whistle until the last.

Lining up opposite former United defender Ona Batlle, Earps and Toone both played their part in the match, with the former denying Jenni Hermoso from the penalty spot in the second half.

However, Olga Cardona's first-half drive was enough to crown Spain world champions, after a summer where England's Lionesses created yet more history and progressed women's football even further.

Toone was involved in the opening stages, with the United midfielder seeing the ball cut out before she could latch on to Lucy Bronze's cross and looking to run in behind the Spain defence persistently.

Moments after Manchester City winger Lauren Hemp rattled the crossbar with a fierce strike, Earps was called into action and produced a smart save to deny Alba Redondo at the back post.

The Reds goalkeeper couldn't keep out Olga Carmona's drive on 29 minutes, however, with the Spain left-back bursting into the box and finding the bottom corner with an arrowed finish.

Toone created a further chance for Hemp before the break, before missing Alessia Russo's low cross from just yards out, but the flag was up for offside anyway.

Despite Earps denying Mariona Caldentey at full stretch at the beginning of the second half, Spain were awarded a penalty after 68 minutes, following a VAR review, for a Keira Walsh handball.

Earps was once more key for the Lionesses, springing to her left to save Hermoso's spot-kick and reignite the fire in Sarina Wiegman's team.

With the Lionesses chasing a leveller, Toone was withdrawn in the latter stages for Tottenham Hotspur striker Bethany England.

Batlle broke away late on as England left themselves open at the back, but Earps reacted well to deny her former team-mate.

Despite England's best efforts in the latter moments, Wiegman's team could not find the equaliser, denying them a second major trophy in as many years.

While the initial disappointment will hurt, the Lionesses have paved the way once more this summer, Down Under, as the women's game continues to grow.

To Katie, Mary and Ella, well done on being part of the first England women's team to reach the World Cup final. You did us proud.