Captain Millie Giglio was left “over the moon” as the youngest England team to play at the Junior Women’s World Cup came away with a first medal in eight attempts.
England women, who only came together as a squad two months ago, beat India 3-0 in a shoot-out to claim bronze after the teams were locked at 2-2 after normal time in South Africa. India were fielding three Tokyo Olympians.
Giglio, of University of Birmingham, said: “With brand new people in a brand new squad we’ve smashed it. I am so proud and over the moon. We took it with both hands, gave it our all and we’ve been rewarded for it.”
Giglio had put England in the lead after a goalkeeper mistake before India hit back courtesy of a Mumtaz Khan brace, the second of which saw her slot over England goalkeeper Mila Welch.
But with two minutes left, England countered and Claudia Swain made the scores level to take the game to the 23m line.
Katie Curtis, Swain and player of the match Maddie Axford all scored for England, while there was controversy to end the bronze medal match when Tokyo Olympian Salima Tete’s saved effort saw the hooter seemingly go off too early. India coach’s later lodged a protest.
Axford said afterwards: “It’s such an amazing feeling, I can’t believe it. We have put such a shift in, I am genuinely speechless.
“We’ve worked so hard. Everyone held their own, we never gave up and it’s all paid off, which is amazing.”
England junior women’s coach Simon Letchford added: “In every game we’ve played we have grown and learned, we’ve exerted a huge amount physically and I’m just so happy for the girls. I would also like to say well played to India, it is hard for anyone to lose, especially in that way.”
India had beaten England to bronze in a shoot-out at the 2013 JWC. England had twice finished fourth in the 2009 and 2013 editions of the junior showpiece event.
The Netherlands later beat Germany, who had soundly beaten England 8-0 in the last four, to win their third world junior title in four editions.
The Dutch shipped their first goal of the tournament to the Germans but ran out 3-1 winners.
Argentina, the holders, were beaten in the quarter-finals by Germany. Australia and New Zealand had pulled out of the tournament due to uncertainty over Covid restrictions.
England starting XI: Welch (GK), Burnley, Mackenzie, Brough, Guckian, Chapple, Curtis, Long, McCabe, Giglio (C), Axford
Subs (used): Wood (GK), Mason, Martin, Manton, Butterworth, Gardens, Swain
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