Phil Neville: England 'touched the hearts of the nation' in World Cup defeat to USA

Yahoo Sport UK

Phil Neville says his England Lionesses should be proud following their 2-1 World Cup semi-final defeat to USA.

Christen Press headed the three-time World Cup winners in front before Ellen White equalised in a frenetic start

But Alex Morgan - America’s superstar - headed USA ahead again to halt the Lionesses charge to the final.

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And manager Neville hailed his players for leaving their ‘hearts and souls on the pitch’ in the narrow defeat.

READ MORE: Women's World Cup: Alex Morgan downs valiant England as Lionesses fall short of final berth

England's Ellen White celebrates after her equaliser. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
England's Ellen White celebrates after her equaliser. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
United States' Alex Morgan celebrates her side's winning goal. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
United States' Alex Morgan celebrates her side's winning goal. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

“My players gave me everything,” the former Manchester United player told the BBC. “We said we wanted to leave our hearts and souls on the pitch and we did.

“We went toe to toe with the best side in the world. We gave everything. They showed great experience at the end to keep the ball in the corner.

"We just ran out of steam. I asked them to play football the way we wanted. We've done our very best.

United States' Alex Morgan celebrates what ended up being the winning goal (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
United States' Alex Morgan celebrates what ended up being the winning goal (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
England's coach Phil Neville (C) comforts England's forward Ellen White (Photo by Philippe DESMAZES / AFP)
England's coach Phil Neville (C) comforts England's forward Ellen White (Photo by Philippe DESMAZES / AFP)

“There should be no tears tonight, they should be proud. They have touched the hearts of the nation back home. I’m happy.”

England’s run to the World Cup semi-final saw an upsurge in women’s football viewership - with 7.6million tuning in to watch the quarter-final victory against Norway.

But players and fans alike were left frustrated by a second-half goal by White which was disallowed by the video assistant referee - a decision which seemed correct by the narrowest of margins.

But they were awarded a late penalty after White - who scored her sixth goal of the tournament earlier in the match - was fouled from close range.

Returning captain Steph Houghton stepped up after a five-minute stoppage in play, but was denied by USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

Steph Houghton with Phil Neville at full time (Photo by Molly Darlington - AMA/Getty Images)
Steph Houghton with Phil Neville at full time (Photo by Molly Darlington - AMA/Getty Images)
Alyssa Naeher saves a penalty from Steph Houghton (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Alyssa Naeher saves a penalty from Steph Houghton (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

And Neville hailed her ‘amazing’ character while backing the Manchester City captain to bounce back.

“She has had an incredible year, she is an amazing person on the pitch and off the pitch.

“She will deal with it in the way that she does. She’ll be upset, disappointed.

“She’s been phenomenal, no blame should be attached to her.”

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