England 0-0 Wales

England 0-0 Wales

Women’s World Cup qualifier: England 0-0 Wales highlights

Wales women’s goalless World Cup qualifying draw with England was probably the best result in their history, says manager Jayne Ludlow.

Wales believed Natasha Harding’s ninth-minute effort crossed the line before Lucy Bronze’s clearance.

England could not breach Wales’ excellent defence despite dominating at St Mary’s.

The hosts, who hit the crossbar through Jordan Nobbs, stay second behind Wales in Group 1 with a game in hand.

The match was Phil Neville’s first at home since taking charge of England in January.

Wales, who have never qualified for a major tournament, remain a point above England, who are ranked second in the world, 32 places above Ludlow’s side.

„We’re still a developing team with areas to work on, but the commitment and work ethic tonight… it was Welshness,” said Ludlow.

„From a female football perspective it’s probably the best (result in Wales’ history).”

The result could set up a tense battle for the only automatic qualifying spot from the group for next summer’s World Cup in France.

A boisterous crowd of more than 25,000 in Southampton watched as England controlled possession but were unable to break Wales down, with Laura O’Sullivan inspired in goal.

Neville told BBC Two: „It does feel like a defeat.

„The looks on the girls’ faces… because we are expected to win and, with our dominance, we should have won.

„A draw was what they came for and what they got. Full credit to Wales – they sat deep and nullified our threat.

„We didn’t play well in the first half and we showed no patience. We were a lot better in the second half but we didn’t put the chances away. We kept them hemmed in.”

Should Wales’ ‚goal’ have been allowed?

‚That’s so tough to call’ – should this have been a Wales goal?

Wales thought they had opened the scoring when England failed to clear a corner and Bronze’s clearance appeared to come from fractionally behind the goalline, although replays were inconclusive and officials did not have the benefit of goalline technology.

„Don’t tell me that was a goal,” Ludlow told journalists after the game. „At the end of the day, decisions are made in a split second.

„It would be great to sit here with three points but this is still great – one point is what we came here for.”

The rest of the game was dominated by England, with Arsenal playmaker Nobbs’ dipping effort touched on to the bar by O’Sullivan.

Barcelona forward Toni Duggan was also denied by O’Sullivan, but England lacked a cutting edge in the final third of the field.

Nobbs curled a corner on to the top of the bar after half-time, before Ellen White’s downward strike forced O’Sullivan into another good stop.

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England, who have won one, drawn two and lost one of their four games since Neville took charge, were frustrated by an organised Wales defence.

Both sides remain unbeaten in the group and qualification remains in England’s hands, but they may need to win in Wales when the sides meet again in August.

The seven group winners will qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup in France, with the four best runners-up entering the play-offs.

‚I haven’t had a better performance’

England had 22 shots – six on target – but could not beat Laura O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan’s fine saves helped Wales keep out a Lionesses side that beat France 4-1 in the SheBelieves Cup last month.

She told BBC Two: „I haven’t had a better performance in my career. This is the biggest game I’ve ever played in.”

Asked which was her favourite save, she said: „They were all good. Keeping them out of the net – every single one.”

Former England forward Sue Smith said: „Laura O’Sullivan was outstanding. „She did everything she needed to do. She did the basics as well as lots of top-class saves.

„It helps your defence when you have a goalkeeper like that behind you.”

Ex-England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis said: „Laura O’Sullivan kept her team in the game. A striker can win you a match by putting a goal away but a keeper can earn you a result as well.

„From the very first minute to the end she was in top form and that’s what got Wales a point.”

What’s next?

England visit Bosnia on Tuesday to play their game in hand on Wales.

„It is probably going to be even worse in Bosnia,” said Neville. „They’re going to be even deeper. I wouldn’t have thought they’ll even have a centre-forward. It’ll probably just be 5-5-0.”

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