Back in 2019, England Women embarked on a World Cup adventure that saw them make it through to the semi-finals of the competition for the second time in a row. After the success of four years prior, the Lionesses went into the tournament with more eyes on them than ever before and they certainly didn't disappoint.
Under the guidance of Phil Neville, who had taken the job just a year prior, England took the tournament by storm and came painfully close to reaching the final for the first time in their history. However, despite the disappointment of going out in the semi-finals, their performance at the tournament is credited as being the springboard for women's football booming bigger than ever before in the United Kingdom.
The star of the show in France for the Lionesses was Ellen White who scored six goals throughout the tournament. Unfortunately for White, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan also netted six goals apiece for the USA meaning she missed out on the golden boot award due to having fewer assists than the American duo.
England Women 2019 World Cup – Group stages
As far as group stage performances go, the Lionesses couldn't have done any better in Group D despite being put in one of the most competitive groups at the tournament. Alongside them in Group D were Japan – a historically great team in the women's game, Scotland – a team who always produces their best against England, and Argentina – who were tipped as dark horses before the tournament.
England won all three of their Group D fixtures with relative ease, conceding just the one goal across all three fixtures. Ellen White hit the ground running and ended the group stage of the tournament with three goals to her game which made England a team that no one wanted to face in the knockout rounds.
The other team to qualify from Group D back in 2019 was Japan, who managed to accumulate four points despite losing 2-0 to England in their second match day. Argentina and Scotland went crashing out, however, meaning England were the only home nation representative in the knockout rounds.
England Women 2019 World Cup – Knockout stages
If their performance in the group stages had given England supporters hope, then their performances in their first two knockout games gave them real belief that something special could happen in France.
Phile Neville's side played Cameroon in the round of 16 in a game that was shrouded in controversy due to the behaviour of some of the Cameroon players. They refused to kick off for several minutes after England's second goal and defender, Augustine Ejangue, was caught spitting on Toni Duggan on camera.
Despite the ugly scenes, England came out on top 3-0 thanks to some deadly finishing at the top end of the pitch. Ellen White got her fourth goal of the tournament while Steph Houghton and Alex Greenwood also got themselves on the score sheet.
Up next for England was Sweden in front of 20,000 fans in Le Havre. The game was played in a much more respectful way than the quarter-final clash with Cameroon but the result was the same – Another 3-0 victory for the Lionesses. White scored again but this time it was Lucy Bronze and Jill Scott who helped the centre forward out.
England Women 2019 World Cup – Semi-finals and third-place playoff
After two emphatic victories in the round of 16 and quarter-finals, there was real belief that England could go all the way. Standing in their way of a place in the final was the USA, the most formidable team in Women's football.
USA were the firm favourites to win the tournament before a ball had been kicked and they still were heading into the semi-final clash with England, however, the way the Lionesses had performed in their first five games had certainly made the USA sit up and take notice. Both teams headed to Lyon where a 50,000 capacity crowd awaited them in one of the most eagerly anticipated games of women's football of all time.
On the night, there was nothing between the two teams but the USA came out on top in a match that finished 2-1. Alex Morgan, widely regarded as the best player in the world at the time, scored the all-important third goal to send the USA through to the final where they overcame the Netherlands 2-0.
Alex Morgan scored the go ahead goal on her birthday vs England and then sipped tea… legendary 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/liuTO1x419
— Dominic Volpe (@dominic_volpe) July 2, 2019
Meanwhile, England were forced to play in the game nobody wants to be part of – the third-place playoff. Phil Neville's side produced their weakest performance of the entire tournament and lost the game 2-1 meaning they finished in fourth place overall for the tournament.
Despite the disappointing end to the World Cup, the legacy of the Lionesses' performance in France is there for all to see. Just three years later, they were crowned European Champions and go into the 2023 Women's World Cup as one of the favourites.