England denied Spain in UEFA Women's EURO 2009 and 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying in dramatic circumstances but the tables were turned in Linkoping on Friday night and Verónica Boquete and Sonia enjoyed the redemption.
Twice Spain led, early through Boquete and with five minutes left thanks to Jennifer Hermoso, only for Eniola Aluko and Laura Bassett to swiftly equalise. But deep in injury time substitute Alexia Putellas's header deflected in to give Spain a 3-2 UEFA Women's EURO 2013 Group C win that left Aluko and Bassett deflated but looking back four years when England lost an opener and ended up reaching the final.
Verónica Boquete, Spain forward
I have experienced emotions in the past, had the experience of previous matches against England, they equalised in the last minute, they knocked us out of EURO [2009 qualifying] and the last World Cup and we wanted revenge. Luckily we had that final chance and we are happy with these three points.
I think we have started to play our own game, we tried to play our game, we knew that they were going to be strong physically, that if we lost the ball in midfield they would be very dangerous and we tried to correct that, especially in the second half. We played on the flanks the many times we had possession and we felt comfortable physically. The fear we had that there was a difference did not materialise.
It is always important to start with a win, a draw would not have been bad either. It was a tight game but the three points, seeing how the other groups are going, is a very important step.
Sonia, Spain midfielder
I watched the end of the match from the bench. When we went 2-1 up, and lost the lead very quickly and we thought it was happening all over again. I think we played a great game and sometimes I think football can reward you as it did with the winner.
In a EURO there are no second chances. We are here at this tournament and what you want is to win. We had the two past draws with them [having lost two-goal leads in crucial qualifiers] in our minds but in the end the important thing is to beat England and get the three points.
The win was essential. Now we wait for France, who we know are the toughest opponents in the group and then Russia, who are very strong and it is very difficult. But the important thing was to win and get the three points.
We have nothing to lose, knowing that this is a reward for us. Teams have become closer over the years and our squad is very united and we show that on the pitch.
Eniola Aluko, England winger
Obviously we're very disappointed. It’s very important to get off to a good start to the tournament, we didn’t really perform and we didn't perform in the first half. We fought our way back into the game and at half-time we got back out and got into second gear really. Credit to Spain, they made it difficult for us and they got the winner in the end. It's disappointing to lose the game in the dying minutes but we’ve got to go again, there are two more games and we can still get out of the group
This team has always got the fighting spirit. The point is we shouldn’t really get ourselves in this position where we are always being proactive and making sure we make it difficult for teams and focusing on our strengths. Perhaps we gave Spain too much respect before the game and that maybe showed in the first half. We need to go out there and be on the front foot against teams.
[Getting to the final after losing their opening game like in 2009] can be done. We can take a lot of experience from that and it is comforting to hear that. We lost our first game and got to the final in 2009. But we can’t keep looking back, we can create our own future and make sure we win our next two games and we end the group on a positive.
Laura Bassett, England defender
I think to be honest all the players are disappointed. When our second goal went in we’d done enough to get something from it and we were pushing for the win at the end. But to concede a goal like that, as sloppy as we did, we are really disappointed.
Both teams were driving away to get the first goal. We were disappointed with the way we started, we didn’t into second gear. We are disappointed we need to reflect on what we did well, what we didn’t do so well, but we will regroup, we’ve been in this position before. It is the first game, but we know we need to start brightly and bring everybody into the pitch in the next game.
The beauty of the team is we always seem to do it the hard way. We always seem to learn the lessons the hard way. But we’ve got real strength in depth, we’ve got character in this team, all different types of characters so we need a never-say-die attitude, and we are not going anywhere. What we’ve been doing training, the way we’ve been playing, we will be bringing that into the game. We are really determined to do that.
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