At Wembley on Friday night, there was a stark contrast between the reactions to the full-time whistle in the stands and on the pitch. While England fans celebrated after a 3-2 comeback win against the Netherlands, the Lionesses were downbeat, knowing that the one-goal margin hadn’t aided them much in their quest to top their Women’s Nations League group. But there was another level of emotion on the face of star goalkeeper Mary Earps.
Had England won by a two-goal margin, it would’ve made their chances of reaching the next stage of this competition a little bit more straight-forward. That thought was clearly on the mind of their shot-stopper as she broke down in tears on the Wembley turf, despite attempts to console her from Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman and former Manchester United team-mate Alessia Russo.
"I'm just sorry that my performance has cost the team tonight,” Earps told ITV, expressing huge disappointment at her inability to keep out the Netherlands’ second goal of the night. “That will haunt me for a long time. I've really let the team down today. I'm really gutted, really, really gutted. It could've been a really special night at Wembley. The team were unbelievable. The girls were phenomenal. I'm a competitor and when it isn't good enough, it isn't good enough. I can only apologise to my team-mates."
Wiegman was having none of it, completely dismissing the idea that Earps was at fault for the result in her post-match press conference. After all, there are plenty of reasons why England find themselves needing to win by a significant margin in Tuesday’s clash with Scotland in order to reach the next round of the Nations League, thus keeping Great Britain’s chances of having a team in the women’s football tournament at next summer’s Olympics alive. There was plenty more that happened in the 90 minutes at Wembley that meant it finished 3-2, too.
And, moreover, Earps has saved this England team plenty of times before and will do again and again. She might not have been faultless in recent months but she is still, by far, one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.