England star Lucy Bronze has opened up on a moment of frustration towards Spanish players and officials late in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final.
Bronze had a night to forget as Spain were crowned champions for the first time, with the fullback at fault for the winning goal after she lost the ball in midfield.
And there was no love lost between Bronze and her rivals – some of whom are club teammates at Barcelona – as the contest intensified in England’s search for an equaliser.
As England stars were repeatedly fouled, Bronze was full of emotion and found herself arguing with Spain coach Jorge Vilda and others on their bench.
The moment went unseen by TV cameras but was captured by pitchside photographers, with Bronze later confirming she was angered by Spain crowding the touchline.
“They had too many players and staff off the bench,” she explained.
“It’s not allowed. I just told them to sit down.”
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Bronze ran in to remonstrate with Vilda and his staff. Credit: Maddie Meyer/FIFA via Getty ImagesBronze points to the line as a FIFA official stands ready to intervene. Credit: Getty Images
Bronze cut a devastated figure following the defeat, sitting alone on the England bench in tears with her head in hands.
But in a heartwarming moment Spain’s Ona Batlle put her celebrations to one side when she approached her Barcelona teammate, consoling Bronze with a hug and a kind word.
Lucy Bronze was consoled by Spain’s Ona Batlle after the match ended. Credit: Getty Images
It had been a frustrating 90 minutes for Bronze after her “huge mistake” in the middle of the field allowed Spain to win the ball, attack the space left vacant by the defender and score the only goal of the game.
The 31-year-old did not directly address her error after the game.
“In the first half maybe they caught us out of position and I think that’s how they got the goal,” Bronze said.
“But in the second half, we’ve come out with a change in formation, probably should have scored at the back post, potentially Spain could have gone down to 10 women at one point as well, which hasn’t gone in our favour either.
“In the second half, we could have easily got ourselves back in the game and take the match to extra time.”
But Bronze wasn’t spared by English great Alex Scott, the 140-cap star critical of the blunder before Spain’s goal.
“This one kills me, because everyone knows how much I love Lucy Bronze, and to stand here now and highlight a huge mistake,” Scott told the BBC at half-time.
“When you are on the ball – and we love these long, busting runs where you’re driving England up the field – the moment you come inside to where the bodies are, and you’re overloaded, you cannot give the ball away in that area.
“This is where we highlight the intelligence of Spain, knowing that ‘ok, Lucy Bronze has left that area, that is where the ball needs to go, at pace’.
“And they overload us down that side. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a great finish, but it comes from a mistake.”
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Olga Carmona scores Spain’s opening goal Credit: Getty Images
Ellen White, England’s greatest goalscorer, added: “I think it’s ok that she’s driving. It’s what she’s going to do with the ball. I don’t know if she knows what she’s actually going to do with it.”
“She’s leaving space, meaning that Alessia Russo has run 60 yards to try and defend,” White went on.
“And (Bronze) does not need to be there. She needs to give the ball quicker and she needs to be smarter.”
Bronze was involved in another viral moment on Sunday night when she refused to shake the hand of FIFA president Gianni Infantino during the post-match ceremony.
Lucy Bronze refused to shake the hand of FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the post-match presentation. Credit: Getty Images
It came after a controversial speech in the lead-up to the final.
“I say to all the women that you have the power to change,” Infantino said.
“Pick the right battles. Pick the right fights. You have the power to change. You have the power to convince us men what we have to do and what we don’t have to do.
“You do it – just do it. With men, with FIFA, you will find open doors. Just push the doors. They are open.”
– With AAP