England Women: How did Mark Sampson and his players rate at Euro 2017?

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport in Utrecht
England Women
England are fifth in the Fifa Women's world rankings - the third-highest European team

After inspiring plenty of fans, but falling short of their stated goal of winning the European Championship, England are heading home.

At the World Cup two years ago, a semi-final defeat by Japan was followed by a third-place play-off win over Germany as Mark Sampson's Lionesses left Canada on a high. This time, a last-four defeat by hosts the Netherlands left the players in tears.

Euro 2017 was a tournament that promised much for Sampson and his team, who have delivered record television audiences. But, by their own judgement, and after major investment in the team, losing in the semi-finals is a failure.

So how did the boss and the players rate individually?

The head coach

Sampson non-committal on future as England boss

Mark Sampson - 8

Sampson ripped his shirt in anger during the 3-0 defeat by the Netherlands after penalty appeals were ignored by the referee, but it was symptomatic of his frustration overall.

After a £14m investment in women's football from the Football Association and with 21 staff in the Netherlands, Sampson was under pressure to deliver, and admitted England "fell short".

The 34-year-old Welshman used the finest detail to prepare his team but there were question marks over his long ball approach, which was identified and countered by the Netherlands.

And while his selections were largely on-point, his insistence that all his players were "world-class" was misguided as the second string failed to make any telling impression. Choosing Fara Williams in a midfield role for the semi-final defeat might have been his biggest mistake.

He took risks with his pre-match barbs towards opposition managers yet they were soon forgotten once his team had won, especially with a first victory over France in 43 years to reach the semi-finals.

Sampson enhanced his reputation again by becoming the first England boss since Sir Alf Ramsey to reach two successive tournament semi-finals, but it will be of little consolation. And with whispers about another FA role in the pipeline, it may yet be his final tournament with the Lionesses.


Karen Bardsley
Karen Bardsley earned her 70th senior England cap in Sunday's quarter-final against France

Karen Bardsley - 7

Bardsley has been prone to the odd error in recent major tournaments, but she was more solid in the three games she played in the Netherlands and did not concede a goal.

Part of that was down to the defence in front of her, which former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis called the "white wall". Yet she should also take credit for playing with a broken leg for 14 minutes in the win over France, which ended her tournament, before being replaced by Siobhan Chamberlain.

Siobhan Chamberlain - 7

Deputised well for the injured Bardsley, and the England defence seemed to prefer passing back to her given her superior kicking ability. She had little chance with the three goals against the Netherlands and was reliable when called upon against Portugal.


Lucy Bronze - 9

One of England's star performers and the real heartbeat of the team. The right-back was seemingly indefatigable as she combined barnstorming runs forward with goal-line clearances, and her desire to drive the team forward was always evident on the pitch, almost over-spilling at the final whistle against the hosts after her penalty complaints were turned down by the referee.

Bronze would comfortably get into any team in world football, and the only question is whether she would be able to make more of an impact further forward.

Lucy Bronze
Lucy Bronze helped Manchester City win the WSL and WSL Cup in 2016, and the FA Women's Cup in 2016-17

Millie Bright - 9

Another player who came away with huge credit, particularly as it was the 23-year-old's tournament debut. She was the only England player to start every game. A throwback centre-half, whose no-nonsense approach dug England out of many holes, Bright provided them with a platform to build on.

The only shame for the Chelsea defender is that she had a legitimate goal ruled out against Spain, and her own goal was the last act of England's tournament. That was totally undeserved, but she will be a rock in the centre of the defence for years to come.

Steph Houghton - 6.5

A mixed tournament for the captain, who was outshone in central defence by her younger partner. At times she looked ponderous, and with a lack of genuine speed, opposition teams such as France were quick to target her. The Manchester City captain also failed to contribute from her free-kicks but showed leadership when England were under threat against Spain and France.

Losing Vivianne Miedema for the Netherlands' opening goal in the semi-final left a lasting impression.

Demi Stokes - 6.5

Another major tournament debutant but, unlike Bright, did not breed confidence at left-back. Stokes is renowned for being a keen gym-goer but at times, it appeared as if her powerful build restricted her speed.

By and large she was solid in defence, but with Bronze bombing down the other side, Stokes contributed little going forward, and perhaps only a recent injury to Alex Greenwood prevented the Liverpool full-back making more starts.


Jordan Nobbs - 8

Nobbs had a lot of catching up to do after a World Cup in which she was injured and then caused confusion with a Twitter announcement hours before the quarter-final against Canada that an injury had ended her tournament - a post that was then swiftly deleted.

For the most part, she redeemed herself, producing superb performances against Scotland and Spain, before coming on to steady the ship against Portugal. Her influence dipped slightly in the knockout stages but she still formed a brilliant partnership with Bronze down the right flank, which was consistently England's best attacking outlet.

Jade Moore - 8

A real workhorse in the England midfield, Moore was part of the Under-19 team who won the 2009 European Championship and once again proved her pedigree following an impressive 2015 World Cup. Perhaps she lacked a genuine creative presence alongside her but, in terms of breaking up play and feeding others, Moore was a success.

Jill Scott - 7

Sorely missed in the semi-final defeat, where she was replaced by Fara Williams because of suspension. Scott and Moore provide real energy and tenacity to the midfield, hallmarks of Sampson's team. Although the Manchester City midfielder did not score at Euro 2017, she played her part in several goals. It was just a shame she missed England's biggest game of the tournament.

Fara Williams - 6

England's most capped player with 165 appearances only made two starts at Euro 2017 and both coincided with a dip in the team's performance. Williams can still drill a pass 50 yards better than anyone in the team, but her lack of pace means she cannot press for sustained periods and she was pulled apart by her Arsenal team-mate Danielle van de Donk in the semi-final.

Her misguided header led to England's downfall in that game as Van de Donk took advantage to score the Netherlands' second goal, but any thoughts of quitting the national side have been dismissed. "I'll never give up my international career," she says.


Fran Kirby - 7

Kirby is the best player in the team running at defenders, and she showed her finishing instinct with a well-taken goal against Spain. But, as a number 10, she didn't often get a grip on the game and it was left to her team-mates to feed striker Jodie Taylor from deeper areas. Kirby played well in patches but lacked the consistency to be deemed world-class yet. It isn't through lack of talent, though.

Ellen White - 7

Another player who deserves her place in the side because of her workrate. She scored against Scotland and had several chances to add to that against the Netherlands, where she was also denied what appeared a clear penalty. White provided plenty of cover for left-back Stokes and a threat going forward, but maybe she could have been replaced by Toni Duggan earlier in games to freshen up the attack.

Toni Duggan - 7

The Barcelona-bound forward took her chances when they came, with a late goal against Scotland and another against Portugal in her only start, but she would be justified in feeling frustrated at not getting more game time.

Jodie Taylor
Jodie Taylor netted five times in four appearances at Euro 2017

Jodie Taylor - 9

An undoubted success. Taylor only made her England debut at the age of 28, and after being injured during the 2015 World Cup - where she scored - she finally made her mark on a major tournament with five goals to make her a shoo-in for the Golden Boot.

She had two good chances to score against the Netherlands, but her historic hat-trick against Scotland and further goals against Spain and France lit up Euro 2017 for England. The team will hope that she remains fit and in form to make a similar impact at the 2019 World Cup in France.

Nikita Parris - 6.5

The Manchester City youngster had a mixed game against Portugal, where she struggled to hold on to the ball in the first half and then scored a fine goal in the second, where the enormity of the occasion made for a charming celebration.

She showed she is far more adept at playing with the ball in front of her, which made it a strange decision that she was picked behind Duggan for the final group game. Lessons were learned in the Netherlands; Parris is one for the future.

The fringe players

Laura Bassett 6

Looked like a defender who hadn't played much competitive football this season, having remained unattached since Notts County Ladies folded on the eve of the Women's Super League Spring Series.

Karen Carney 7

Set up Nobbs for a well-taken volley against Scotland, but was limited to cameo roles in games.

Izzy Christiansen (right)
Izzy Christiansen (right) celebrates Nikita Parris' winning goal against Portugal

Izzy Christiansen 6

Tipped to break in to the first team at some point during the tournament, but gave the ball away several times in her only start against Portugal.

Alex Greenwood 6

Probably deserved a second chance after a decent showing against Portugal, although failed to find her range from set-pieces after returning from a recent foot injury.

Jo Potter 7

Assured in midfield against Portugal, and added presence in defence when moved back there in the second half.

Alex Scott 6

Only played against Portugal but was never going to replace Bronze unless she was injured. This could be her last tournament.

Casey Stoney - did not play

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