Lucy Bronze says she’s “disappointed in her own performance” after the United States beat England, 1–2, in Tuesday’s first World Cup semifinal in Lyon.
Goals in the first half from Christen Press and Alex Morgan either side of Ellen White’s sixth goal of the tournament ensured England exited after having a goal disallowed, missing a penalty, and a late red card to Millie Bright.
Bronze, who has been talked of as a potential player of the tournament candidate, has been England’s most consistent performer throughout the World Cup but she wasn’t happy with her own individual performance.
“I thought I could have played a lot better tonight,” admitted the right back, who lost in her club’s home stadium for the first time. “I can play a lot higher level than what I showed tonight. I think the USA obviously played a good game, their movement was good for their two goals, we pushed them right to the edge.
“We can’t say ifs and buts, the USA won and we’ve got to have huge respect for them. We tried our best to play our football, we stuck to the way we play even with 10 men, and I’m super proud of the girls, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough tonight.”
Bronze was as visibly upset as anyone as she laid face first on the turf at fulltime, before she spent some time sitting on the pitch after the game as she took in what had happened in a chaotic final 20 minutes of the match.
When asked what was going through her mind post-match, Bronze was honest when critiquing her own performance.
“I was just disappointed with myself,” she said. “Disappointed in the first goal. That’s not something I’m used to, I’m used to being defensively solid. No matter what people say about me as an attacker, I always want to defend my player well and I’m disappointed that I didn’t do that to my best tonight.”
On what her poor performance may have been down to, Bronze added: “I’ve played about 100 games this season. It’s no excuse, we wanted to play a good game tonight and I tried my best and everyone tried their best, that’s all I can ask for.”
Once the initial disappointment had subsided, head coach Phil Neville pulled his players together in a huddle, as has become tradition under Neville during the tournament.
Neville was much more positive than his players post-match despite admitting that losing would be a “failure” pre-match, and Bronze said Neville told the players he was “proud of us” after the defeat.
“He’s proud of the fact that we came to this tournament wanting to play a style of football. We’ve evolved from two years ago from the team that we were in the Euros. We’re now playing football and to do that in such a short space of time is such a tribute to all the players that have featured in an England shirt.
“The fact we went completely 180 on the type of football that we tried to play before and now we’ve got to the semifinals of a World Cup playing some nice football, scoring lots of goals, I’m super proud of us for doing that.”
Bronze said “we want to win” when asked about defending the bronze medal the team won in Canada four years ago, but couldn’t hide her disappointment at being involved in a third straight major tournament semifinal defeat with her country.
“Of course, it’s a disappointment, we wanted to win this World Cup and we came here to win this World Cup. We’ve fallen short, we wanted to make it to the final because we haven’t quite made it there but the fact we consistently reach semifinal shows how immense this team is and the strengths of this team.
“Now we have a tournament as Team GB next year and then we’ve got a home Euros. There’s so much ahead of us and we can really push on and I know for a fact that this team is going to win a trophy at some point.”