England boss Phil Neville hailed “big game player” Jodie Taylor after the striker’s second-half finish secured a 1-0 win over Argentina and a place in the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup.
Taylor, having been brought into the starting line-up, turned the ball in at the back post from Beth Mead’s cross just after the hour mark in Le Havre as the Lionesses made it six points from two Group D games.
What was the 33-year-old’s first international goal since April last year took her overall tally for England to 18.
Taylor also netted during the 2015 World Cup campaign, then was the top-scorer at Euro 2017 with five goals.
And Neville said: “She’s a massive player, a big game player.
“I told Jodie before the game that I knew she would score.
“From the Scotland game (the 2-1 victory on Sunday in which Taylor was an unused substitute) her training performances, her attitude, the way that she has focused, because we told Jodie very early on that she would be playing against Argentina…
“You reap your rewards from your training performances and that is what we saw from Jodie. She thrives off service, off balls through and the support from around her.
“And I think in my time as manager, I have to say probably we’ve not given her the service she had in the Euros or past games for England, and it’s something we’re working really hard on.”
Neville was also keen to praise Argentina’s goalkeeper Vanina Correa, who saved Nikita Parris’ first-half penalty.
As well as pushing the spot-kick against the post, the 35-year-old made further fine stops to deny Mead and then Parris once again before Taylor’s goal broke Argentina’s dogged resistance.
“Goalkeepers in women’s football get a lot of criticism,” Neville said.
“The Argentina goalkeeper produced a performance of world-class ability.
“I think goalkeeping in the women’s game over the last 12 months, with the coaching, especially the goalkeeping coaches they’ve got, has risen incredibly, and I think not enough respect goes to the coaches and the goalkeepers that are performing fantastically.
“When we played against New Zealand (last month), Erin Naylor put in was a fantastic performance against us, and we have three outstanding goalkeepers, plus Ellie Roebuck, with us.
“So if anyone wants to challenge me on goalkeeping standards, then what I have seen from the last 12 months is that we’ve probably got six or seven England internationals in the Women’s Super League, in our pathway, that are all of a fantastic level, and you’ve seen it in every team that we’re coming up against. The save from Nikita Parris was world-class.”
Tonight’s #PlayeroftheMatch presented by @Visa is Vanina Correa of @Argentina!
An incredible performance in goal tonight [email protected] | #ENGARG | #FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/eL1SmMlI6p
– FIFA Women’s World Cup (@FIFAWWC) June 14, 2019
When Correa herself was asked if she felt criticism of goalkeepers in women’s football was wrong and that her performance had shown why, she said: “Yes, perhaps.
“We might make more errors than our male counterparts. Our training in Argentina, we’re not able to access it from a young age, we’re only able to do so from an older age, so perhaps we do make more mistakes.
“But nowadays things are changing, we’re having better training. It’s not nice to criticise goalkeepers, even if we do sometimes make mistakes and they end up as goals. We’re trying to change things.”
England will now look to cement top spot when they conclude their Group D matches by facing second-placed Japan in Nice on Wednesday.
Japan have four points, while Argentina and Scotland, whose meeting on Wednesday takes place in Paris, have one and none respectively.
As well as a top-two finish in a group guaranteeing a spot in the last 16, four of the six third-placed finishers will also progress.