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Earps makes huge save in Women's World Cup but it's not enough to give England its first win

Mary Earps Mary Earps - The Canadian Press

SYDNEY (AP) — Mary Earps stopped a penalty kick in the Women's World Cup, and screamed an expletive at rival Spain.

In that moment, England coach Sarina Wiegman believed her star goalkeeper had just pulled the Lionesses back into the game. Earps' save on Jenni Hermoso's penalty in the 68th minute was the first in a Women's World Cup final since Marta of Brazil missed against Germany in 2007.

Earps' stop prevented Spain from taking a commanding 2-0 lead, but it wasn't the turning point Wiegman had hoped would get England back in the match. Spain won 1-0 behind an Olga Carmona first-half goal.

“I think Mary’s performance has been really good. She has had crucial saves a lot of games in this World Cup, and before that, too,” Wiegman said. “I think, of course, that was a crucial moment that she stopped that penalty and I actually thought we have the momentum now, and now we’re going to get back and score a goal. I was really convinced about that.”

Earps, the Manchester United keeper, pounded her chest after the save. She wagged her tongue. And she clearly shouted an expletive in the direction of Spain's players. She'd been tested over and over in the final — Spain had seven shots on goal, including three on target — and her temerity led the Lionesses.

“I can’t swear, but I am sure you can fill in the blanks,” Earps said after the game.

England couldn't score and the European champions were defeated in their debut in the World Cup final. Earps was awarded the Golden Glove award: she allowed only four goals over seven games and kept three clean sheets as England's reliable last line of defense.

“Maybe in a couple of weeks I will look back," Earps said of her individual award. "Of course I am proud of that achievement, it’s very hard to achieve, but I would trade it for a gold medal any day. Disgusted that we fell short.”

Although her save will go down as one of the biggest moments of the tournament, Earps did not avoid controversy that FIFA was forced to address after the match. Hermoso was awarded the penalty kick after a VAR review of a hand ball, and some angles of the kick seemed to show Earps was off her line when Hermoso took the shot.

If she had been off her line, Hermoso would have been given a second attempt. FIFA said Earps' positioning was checked by VAR and the goalkeeper's foot was on the line when the penalty was taken.

“As with all penalties, the Video Assistant Referee checked Spain’s penalty for encroachment by the goalkeeper and determined that Mary Earps’ back foot was in line with the goal line,” FIFA said in a statement issued after the game.

Wiegman, meanwhile, was proud of the England effort despite the loss — her second consecutive in a World Cup final. Wiegman was coach of the Netherlands when the Dutch lost to the United States in the 2019 championship match.

“When you play a final you want to win it, so yes, disappointment is mainly how I feel,” she said. “But I think maybe in the end Spain played a little better than we did. I think we gave our everything. The players gave everything. I have to give congratulations to Spain, they played the best football across the tournament.”

Royals, politicians and people in the street in England expressed their pride in the Lionesses despite the defeat.

Earps said it will take time to get over the disappointment.

“I don’t think that really hits right now. I think it will in a couple of weeks, when we can look back and reflect,” she said. “I know, in football, to get to a World Cup final is an incredible achievement. But right now we are just disappointed. We came here for the gold medal and we were so close and came just short.”


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