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Neville urges ‘smiles not tears’ as he hails Lionesses for giving it their all

England boss Phil Neville expressed his pride in his players following the dramatic 2-1 Women’s World Cup semi-final loss to the United States in Lyon.

After Christen Press’ early opener for the US, Ellen White’s equaliser, and what proved the winner from Alex Morgan, England thought they had equalised midway through the second half through White, only for the effort to be disallowed on a marginal offside call following a VAR check.

The Lionesses were then aided by VAR as they were awarded an 84th-minute penalty, but captain Steph Houghton saw her effort saved by Alyssa Naeher. They subsequently finished the game with 10 players after Millie Bright was sent off.

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Neville was asked afterwards what he had said to his players in his post-match huddle, and he said: “I didn’t want to see tears. You lose, but I thought the way we lost is exactly the way I wanted us to play.

“The courage they had to play football and keep going and battle – they left everything out there. We have no regrets. We’ve come to the World Cup and given it our absolute all, and that’s what I said to them.

“I didn’t want to see tears – there should be smiles. We’ve had best 46 days of our life and it’s not ended yet.”

England will now face either Holland or Sweden in Saturday’s play-off for third place.