- Steph Houghton discusses her battle to be fit to face Norway
- The England captain was thrilled with their performance
- She insisted the result and records won’t go to the players’ heads
By Laure James with England
Despite having won all four matches, shattered records and inspired a nation back home, England went into the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ quarter-finals adamant their best was yet to come. Many felt that would prove impossible but Phil Neville’s charges delivered their most impressive performance to date in a 3-0 defeat of Norway.
Steph Houghton battled back from an ankle injury sustained against Cameroon in the Round of 16, having missed training to recover in time to start, and she was thrilled with the outcome.
“I did everything I could to be fit and I’m standing here now as the captain of the winning team, leading them into a semi-final,” Houghton said. “But it wasn’t just about me, nor was it in the build-up – it’s about 23 players. Like Millie [Bright], Lucy [Bronze], we did everything we could, got looked after by the medical team and the physios, to put in a performance which warranted the win. So we’re really happy.”
Houghton, indeed, seemed untroubled by the injury which caused her to be labelled a “major doubt” by Neville on Wednesday and made two last-ditch interventions to avert danger: clearing Lisa-Marie Utland’s effort off the line after denying Caroline Graham Hansen. The 31-year-old helped England go over six hours without conceding at France 2019 – the sixth-longest run in Women’s World Cup history.
“Our intensity when defending, our intensity when countering, I just don’t think they could live with us,” Houghton said. “Just the heart that everybody showed, I think tonight we showed what we are about.”
Looking ahead to Lyon, where hosts France or holders USA await England, Houghton is insistent the same, trusted preparation will be followed in the camp.
“We stick to the same process that we have done over the last four or five games,” she said. “We review and analyse the game back and we’ll try and cut out some of those earlier errors such as giving possession away. At the same time we’ll take a lot of confidence from that performance: we’ve just kept a clean sheet and beaten a very good Norway team by three goals, and it could have been by five or six, so we will take the positives.
“This group is very humble, and I don’t think the boss will ever let us get ahead of ourselves. He’ll let us enjoy tonight, see our families and enjoy the moment with them but as soon as the rest day is over, we’ll go to Lyon and be back on the training ground and back in the classroom.”
Fans interested in attending the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 can still purchase tickets for the tournament via www.fifa.com/tickets, as well as via ticket booths located at stadia for remaining matches still available to the general public.