OBJECTIVE completed, England have reached the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup.
According to Pompey Ladies boss Perry Northeast, progress – courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Norway – can be regarded as an impressive achievement.
Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze both netted as Mark Sampson’s side fought from behind to claim victory.
It is the first time England have won a knock-out fixture at a tournament which has expanded this year to include an extra round.
On Sunday morning they will face host nation Canada in the quarter-finals, a fixture Northeast believes will be another tight affair.
But he is convinced the Lionesses deserve plenty of credit for having reached this point.
He said: ‘I am not sure we are quite up there with the world’s best, but certainly under Mark Sampson a bit of steeliness has been added to them.
‘I would say we are still not as fluent as the world’s best, like Germany, France and the USA, who all went through to the last eight in quite devastating fashion.
‘England almost sit in the second tier of that ability level – and this tournament has been progress on four years ago when they didn’t get out of the group.
‘A top-eight finish is what was expected and anything above that would be a bonus.
‘Getting this far is not just important for England Women but English football in general. We do struggle in the knock-out stages whether it is men, ladies or youth.
‘It is something I have been thinking of because I believe we are let down psychologically rather than technically.
‘We are slightly behind those top nations in most aspects so it is about handling pressure and sometimes you can watch an English team and see in their faces they are uptight.
‘Whereas, some of the top teams in the world take everything in their stride.
‘This is an achievement we have done out of graft.
‘Lucy Bronze’s goal was great, but hopefully we can see the players now flourish.’