Jodie Taylor strikes winner as patient England eventually find way past Argentina to reach World Cup last 16 

Jodie Taylor celebrates after breaking the deadlock for England against Argentina in Le Havre
Jodie Taylor celebrates after breaking the deadlock for England against Argentina in Le Havre Credit: REUTERS

The goal eventually came. Not just for England, denied time and again by a remarkable performance by Argentina’s veteran goalkeeper Vanina Correa, but for striker Jodie Taylor.

Four hundred and 30 days since her last international goal, the 33-year-old forward claimed the precious strike which secured this win and guaranteed England are in the last 16 of this World Cup.

They join Italy, France and Germany as having already progressed from their groups and, although they have yet to impress quite as much as some of their rivals for the prize, this was a performance of ­patience and pace, even if they spurned a host of chances, including a first-half penalty.

There was emotion, also, with Fran Kirby visibly upset after the game. It was the birthday of her mother, Denise, who died 11 years ago when Kirby was just 14, from a brain haemorrhage and she was hugged by team-mates and head coach Phil Neville out on the pitch.

Kirby was involved in the goal which came, significantly, from the only time Argentina ventured ­forward with more than their lone striker. This time they were caught on the counter-attack, with Jill Scott running from her own half before finding Kirby, who played it out wide to Beth Mead.

England were prepared for a physical approach from the Argentines Credit: REUTERS

The winger’s precise low cross arced behind the Argentina ­defence, and in front of Correa, with Taylor stealing in to calmly ­side-foot home.

The release was evident. England had been thwarted, denied, wasteful, but once ahead there was no danger that the victory would not be theirs. 

For Taylor, who did not make her international debut until she was 28, overlooked by former coach Hope Powell, it was an unforgettable moment and the first time she had scored for England since April 2017.

It was also a sweet justification for Neville, who made four changes from the side who beat Scotland. Taylor was one of those, replacing Ellen White at centre-forward. Up until the goal, though, Taylor had struggled, as Argentina showed the organisation, resolve and, at times, cynicism that had helped them earn their first ever World Cup point in the goalless draw against Japan.

The Japanese are England’s next opponents in Nice on Wednesday, with Neville knowing that the avoidance of defeat will mean his team have won their group and will face one of the best third-placed ­nations from either Group B, E or F, currently China, Cameroon or Chile. That is a draw they will have wanted.

England will have to be better to go further, but this was certainly an improvement on the performance against Scotland that had irritated Neville.

He had warned it would be tough, warned about how motivated Argentina would be, and so it proved.

It was always going to be a different encounter to the last time these two nations met at a World Cup, with England winning emphatically 6-1 in 2007, even if Argentina are 34 places inferior in the Fifa rankings and have 14 players in their squad who are still amateur. But they also had Correa who, it ­appeared, would be the story.

The 35-year-old was in the Argentina squad for that previous World Cup appearance and had ­retired from football in 2012 – to start a family – only to be persuaded to return five years later following a chance meeting with coach Carlos Borrello.

How he will have been pleased about that decision. But first the cynicism.

Twice Lucy Bronze was simply hauled down, upended and then with a body-check, and Scott was targeted from goal-kicks. Midfielder Ruth Bravo backed into her, held her, stood on her toes, with Scott constantly protesting to the referee.

Parris's first-half penalty is saved by the superb Correa Credit: GETTY IMAGES

But Bravo was also rash. It was from her mistimed tackle that England earned their first-half penalty which may have made the evening easier had it been converted. It came as Argentina were finally stretched, thanks to Steph Houghton’s superb crossfield ball, from right to left, being met by Mead. She deftly played it back into the path of Alex Greenwood, who surged forward and was caught by Bravo. There was no need for the video assistant referee.

Up stepped Nikita Parris, who had scored from the spot against Scotland, but Correa dived to her left to tip the ball on to a post and Taylor was unable to steer the ­rebound home. “World-class,” Neville said of the save, even if the penalty was not the best.

England were stung. They pushed on even more, desperate to make amends and appeared set to do so when Kirby latched on to a poor clearance and threaded the ball through to Mead. Clear on goal, her low shot was turned away by Correa with her outstretched left leg.

England’s frustration grew, especially as there was time-wasting from their opponents, but admirably they kept pushing forward and Argentina finally appeared to tire. Still Correa denied them after a free-kick by Greenwood was contested by Bronze, with the ball dropping to Parris.

Was this her moment to redeem herself? The shot was crisp, powerful and even though Correa was unsighted by Scott, she still beat it out.

When Taylor planted a header straight at Correa there was a pang of concern. Would England pay for this? Argentina had barely ventured out of their half and certainly not with any number of players, but the one time they did so, they were caught out by the best move of the match as the breakthrough finally came.

Taylor's goal was her seventh in nine games for England at major tournaments Credit: GETTY IMAGES

 

That felt fitting. England will stand accused of not winning by a greater margin, but this is tournament football and tournament ­football against a highly motivated opponent who were determined to deny them. Even so, there were a couple of headers from Scott which could have added to the scoreline, both brushing the roof of the net, as the two wingers – Mead and Parris – dominated until they were ­substituted.

It felt like a recognition by Neville that the game was won and he needed to think ahead. Both players will be important for England deeper into this tournament. 

The first mission is accomplished. They have won both their games, they are through and they are getting better.

'England were playing, that is all that mattered'

Luke Edwards was at the Stade Oceane to witness some pure footballing fandom, as well as and England win. What's not to enjoy?

They were on their way to a women’s game, England vs Argentina, but it was just football, England were playing, that is all that mattered.

Nobody was thinking about gender, nobody was worrying about male and females and traditional roles, it was a game of football, a chance to support your country in a World Cup, in a game they were expected to win. It was supposed to be fun and felt like it.

There were no intimidating groups of lads, no aggressive chanting, no hostile takeover of a foreign city, just fans in pairs, groups of friends and families heading to a match to enjoy it and each other’s company.

It creates a different sort of atmosphere. The more militant and raucous, might call it sanitised. It is better just to think of it as different. Not to everyone’s taste, but we all have different palates.

Neville's post-match words...

...to the BBC:

I thought we were outstanding. I thought the speed of our play in a difficult game, I enjoyed our performance and I’m so proud of them. Four days ago I was slightly critical, but I’m proud of every one of them tonight. It should have been more but I’ve got to say, I stood in the warm-up and watched their keeper and she was unbelievable. She was incredible.

The save from Nikita in the second half, her handling, what you’ve seen tonight is an unbelievable goalkeeping performance from the Argentina girl. I’ll tell you what, the players after that game, they’re enjoying it. They’re enjoying it, they’re having the time of their lives and so am I.

Full time: England 1 Argentina 0

That's it!England are through to the last 16 with a game to spare! The scoreline looks much tighter than the game panned out - Argentine goalkeeper Vanina Correa made sure of that - but England deserve credit for not deviating from the plan. 

Taylor pokes home the winner Credit: REX

Eventually, it took a rare Argentina attack to undo them: England sprang out on the break, slicing through the white-and-blue ranks, and Jodie Taylor's goal  - her seventh in nine major tournament games - settled matters. Nikita Parris's penalty miss in the first half didn't feel critical at the time, and so it proved.

Jason Burt's match report will be above shortly...

90+3 min: England 1 Argentina 0                              

Sensible passing here, nothing too cagey, not too adventurous.

90+1 min: England 1 Argentina 0                             

Four added minutes of England wingers just running the ball out of play.

89 min: England 1 Argentina 0                            

On come Karen Carney, the most Old Head On To Keep Things Steady sub you could imagine.

86 min: England 1 Argentina 0                           

England seeing this one out comfortably. Parris's evening is done - she's been....OK - and on comes Rachel Daly.

81 min: England 1 Argentina 0                          

Georgia Stanway replaces Mead, who's had moments of brilliance tonight.

78 min: England 1 Argentina 0                         

Parris and then Kirby threaten down either flank, but seem to be running out of steam. Beth Mead is about to be replaced after that knock she took a few moments ago.

75 min: England 1 Argentina 0                        

Beth Mead goes down after taking a heavy whack while trying to shield the ball round her marker, and is also penalised for doing so. Substitute Larroquette produces Argentina's first shot on target, which Telford gathers with ease.

73 min: England 1 Argentina 0                       

Chance! Greenwood curls in a beauty of a cross, right into the path of the towering Scott in the middle...but she heads over from ten yards! It was almost easier to score.

70 min: England 1 Argentina 0                      

Kirby zips the ball into Taylor's feet, who touches it off for Moore - she's scythed down and England have a free kick, 28-ish yards out and just left of centre. Houghton pulls rank again..and tries to sneak Kirby in on the left, but it's a mess.

69 min: England 1 Argentina 0                     

Argentina sub: captain Banini comes off, on comes Mariana Larroquette

68 min: England 1 Argentina 0                    

Mead skips past two challenges before running out of pitch and settling for a corner from the left. Greenwood takes, Correa palms away. 

65 min: England 1 Argentina 0                   

England weren't exactly chucking the kitchen sink before, but they can certainly relax a bit now. They're not sitting back, though: Parris earns a corner as they look to kill Argentina off. Scott charges in to meet it, but heads over.

GOAL! England 1 (Taylor 61 min) Argentina 0

Breakthrough! And what a goal! England play their way out from the back, Jill Scott leads the charge, Kirby feeds Greenwood on the left and her cross is laid on an absolute silver platter for Jodie Taylor to tap home!

57 min: England 0 Argentina 0                  

Chance! Save! Parris crosses from the right, finding the head of Taylor, but she can only nod the ball straight at Correa, who gathers it at the second attempt. The clock ticks on...

54 min: England 0 Argentina 0                 

England probe again, players try and make runs to drag the Argentines apart, but Kirby's crossfield pass can't find the head of Parris at the back post.

50 min: England 0 Argentina 0                

Mead and Greenwood combine down the left, and the latter is clattered off the ball after delivering a cross. Here comes another set-piece, then: a header is blocked, but Parris follows up with a belting shot...and Correa saves again!!

47 min: England 0 Argentina 0               

Kirby drops a shoulder to elude an Argentine defender on halfway...and then gifts the ball away. On the counter, Argentina go long to Jaimes again, but the offside flag goes up just as she looks like muscling through.

We go again...

Argentina get the second half going....and immediately go long to Jaimes up front. England are soon back on the ball.

Kirb your enthusiasm

Agree with this, Kirby hasn't been the jinking, scheming presence so often seen in a Chelsea shirt:

Patience, illustrated:

There will be plenty more where this came from in the second half. 

This, indeed:

Half time: England 0 Argentina 0

This might not be such a huge surprise. We knew Argentina would be the epitome of a rearguard action, but perhaps not to this extent: Vanina Correa has pulled off at least three superb saves - including one to keep out Nikita Parris's penalty on the half-hour.

No need to panic, though. Beth Mead and Lucy Bronze are having plenty of joy down either flank, at least one Argentine has gone down with cramp, and chances are coming. 

45+1 min: England 0 Argentina 0              

Booking for Jade Moore as impatience gets the better of her and she pulls back the counter-attacking Sole Jaimes

40 min: England 0 Argentina 0             

Chance! Chances! England should be ahead. Beth Mead whips in the free kick, the ball is hooked goalwards, blocked, and then Jodie Taylor misses the target from six yards! The flag was up anyway. Soon after, Mead is clean through....she aims for the bottom-right corner, but Correa saves with her feet!

39 min: England 0 Argentina 0            

Kirby does skip inside now, receiving and giving the ball nice and quick before being chopped down on the edge of the box. The referee allows play to go on, though, as Scott lines up a shot....but it flies waaaaay over. Moments later, it's a yellow card for centre-half Aldana Cometti for wiping out Bronze on the right!

35 min: England 0 Argentina 0           

Argentina cutting out England's forward passes a little more regularly now, and that's where the frustration will creep in. Moore is trying to conduct things from deep, but Kirby - in particular - has had little influence over this first half.

32 min: England 0 Argentina 0          

Scott slides in with a meaty challenge on Argentine captain - and no.10 - Estefania Banini, and she's penalised, despite her protests. Argentina haven't made a single in-road into the England half, but it'll be about patience at the other end. Still, they're popping the ball left and right neatly enough.

30 min: England 0 Argentina 0         

England crack on with it, as if that penalty miss never happened, but it very much did: Correa read Parris's intentions perfectly, but still pulled out a great dive to her left to stop it, via the post. Game on!

PENALTY SAVED!

...and, after a long wait, Nikita Parris sidefoots it to the right...but Correa saves superbly! What a stop!

PENALTY TO ENGLAND!

A crossfield ball stretches the Argentine defence, Mead taps the ball to Greenwood, who is felled by the byline by Bravo! Nikita Parris to take...

24 min: England 0 Argentina 0        

An England set-piece routine looks too complicated for its own good until the ball is nodded into the middle and almost turned into her own goal by an Argentine boot! Two more corners follow as the pressure builds, before Mead chips a cross out for a goal kick.

It's tempting to bemoan the final ball again here, but it still feels like only a matter of time...

22 min: England 0 Argentina 0       

Argentina earn a rare chance to load the England box. Lorena Benitez sails the ball in, and it flicks off an Argentine head and safely into Carly Telford's gloves.

18 min: England 0 Argentina 0      

Scott gallops down the right again, released by Bronze, but her cross is held by a sprawling Correa in the six-yard box! The final ball missing for England right now, but their approach play has been very good.

17 min: England 0 Argentina 0     

Free kick to England, which skipper Steph Houghton takes charge of from 30 yards, but her attempted power-dipper has too much juice on it and sails over the Argentine bar.

15 min: England 0 Argentina 0    

Bronze is targeted again, this time by Stabile, who goes in late from behind but avoids a yellow card this time. England, again, get straight on with it. Beth Mead and Fran Kirby, though, haven't started quite on the same wavelength over on the left flank.

13 min: England 0 Argentina 0   

68% possession for England so far. Bronze curls a cross in from the right touchline, with Scott waiting in the middle, but she can't get a run on to the ball and her header is easy for Correa. 

11 min: England 0 Argentina 0  

Some lovely interplay sets Scott down the right, with Parris on the overlap, but the latter's cross doesn't find a red shirt in the middle. England stretching the play well, and Mead is the biggest irritation to the Argentine defence so far - she just fails to latch on to a ball though, which goalkeeper Vanina Correa gathers.

7 min: England 0 Argentina 0 

England getting the restarts going in the manner of a team 1-0 down with two minutes to go, such is their eagerness to get this job done. Jade Moore switches play to Beth Mead on the left, but she overelaborates against the full-back and doesn't get her cross in. Ruth Bravo has a little set-to with Jill Scott, who gives her a shove! The referee sorts it out....for now.

5 min: England 0 Argentina 0

Down goes Lucy Bronze again - the reputation of this Argentina side is not without foundation - after a heavy challenge from Ruth Bravo. Up she gets again.

3 min: England 0 Argentina 0

Parris bursts down the right again - she's got Eliana Stabile on absolute toast already - but her cross is headed awya this time. Good tempo from England so far. Very nice "Umbro Cup '95" kit, too.

Kick off!

England get us going, all in their change colours of red. Within 30 seconds, Lucy Bronze charges into the box to meet a Nikita Parris cross and gets a minor whack in the face. She's fine.

Players are out...

...and the anthems are about to start. Lovely evening for it in Le Havre.

21st-century punditry!

England's passing networks versus Scotland

The BBC have casually rolled out some "passing networks" in their pre-match analysis, and I'm all for it. Whatever it is*.
(*I know what it is, honest.)

Neville's pre-match words...

He tells the BBC:

We wanted to freshen it up a little bit. We’ve freshened it up down the side, and brought in players who are in good form and fit the profile of the game. I thought they were fantastic against Japan. We’ll have to break down a resolute, determined, spirited team who have got some good players up front as well. We’re under no illusions, it’s going to be a tough game.

'Some of the coverage redefined the extremes of glass-half-full thinking'

Are we actually...too nice about women's football?

"The World Cup matches should be subject to the same criticism, the same uncompromising scrutiny that is applied in the men’s game," writes Oliver Brown.

Toni Duggan, England’s leading striker, doubts whether this point has yet been reached. In an interview with Telegraph Sport, she reflected: “We’ve actually played badly and people are saying, ‘Ah, we’re so proud.’ Is it just because we’re the women’s team? If that was the men, you wouldn’t be saying that.”

She is right, naturally. Take the United States’s 13-0 shellacking of Thailand, which raised questions about the winners’ etiquette at celebrating so lopsided a scoreline, and about how exactly their overwhelmed opponents had managed to qualify at all. If such a result befell the Thais’ male counterparts, it would spark national embarrassment.

Thailand were given a great deal of sympathy after they conceded 13 goals to USA  Credit: REUTERS

But in the women’s case, some of the coverage redefined the extremes of glass-half-full thinking. After the US players had shredded them on the pitch, the reporters killed them with kindness. One American website described Kanjana Sungngoen, who had just contributed to conceding 13 goals, as “posing a threat on the right with her pace”.

The making of Nikita Parris, the down to earth England star, from those who know her best 

James Ducker tells the story of Nikita Parris, who could be England's star of the tournament. She starts again in le Havre tonight...

Nobody quite encapsulates the buzz around the women’s game on these shores like Parris, the sport’s poster girl, reigning FWA Footballer of the Year and a talent tipped for greatness by her national team manager, Phil Neville, one the European champions Lyon have just prised from Manchester City. Parris’s penalty helped England on their way to a 2-1 win in their opening match against Scotland last Sunday, although the enduring image from the game was the sight of the Scotland defender, Nicola Docherty, being bamboozled by an outrageous reverse nutmeg from Parris.

Yet it has taken time and a lot of work for Parris, now 25, to hone the technical expertise many just assume was innate. There were, for example, three years between Parris representing England at the Under-20 World Cup and making her senior debut. Mo Marley, who was Parris’ coach at Everton Ladies and subsequently with the England junior teams, identifies one moment in particular as a turning point.

The reigning FWA Footballer of the Year has been tipped for greatness by her national team manager, Phil Neville Credit: REUTERS

“We were planning for the Under-20 World Cup in Canada in 2014 and we played against a Japanese Under-23 team in La Manga,” explains Marley, now England Women’s Under-21 coach. “For a long time we’d been going on about technical improvement - playing quicker under pressure, limited touches - and Nikita came off after that game and said to me, ‘Mo, now I know exactly what you mean about needing to be technically better - I’ve just seen it from the Japanese in that game’.

'It all felt strangely familiar'

It's happening again. Remember last summer? It's happening again, on a smaller scale and without the man-made downpour of lager from the Boxpark ceilings. Max Freeman-Mills went to gauge the London appetite for the Women's World Cup.

It would be exaggerating the case to say that the women's event is generating the same scale of communal spectating, but the intensity - as proved at those three venues in London last week, and elsewhere - is much the same.  

At The Yard, the England-Scotland match was watched by around 180 fans, the vast majority of them women. The partisan and vocal crowd were drawn to the theatrical setting by organisers The Festival of Football, although the event itself was the brainchild of Goal Diggers FC, a non-profit football club that welcomes women and non-binary people as players. 

Fans gather to watch England's Lionesses take on Scotland in the World Cup Credit: M RIDSDALE

Hannah Wright, chair of Festival of Football, is pleased to say that the turnout was “bigger than we expected”. The game was preceded by a five-a-side tournament, and many players stayed on to populate what Wright calls a “room full of women all cheering on and supporting the team. We all play football together and come together to watch it.”

Charlotte Fraser, a theatre director who attended the event, said: “I think that was the first time in my life I wasn’t outnumbered by male football fans when watching football.” Each of these vibrant events serves as a potent reminder that even the game’s record-breaking viewing figures on the BBC - the audience peaked at 6.1 million, an increase of 50 per cent on the previous record set for the Euro 2017 semi-final against Holland - are underestimates given group viewings. 

Scots left feeling aggrieved again

Meanwhile in Group D, Scotland fell to their second 2-1 defeat of the tournament, leaving them with a mountain to climb if they are to reach the knockouts. Molly McElwee was in Rennes to witness it...

As was the story against England, Scotland were late to the party, only coming alive in the closing 20 minutes of the match. But their two calls for penalties were strong and the fact that VAR was not consulted for either will be a particular sticking point.

The first and perhaps softer claim came in the 79th minute, when Cuthbert was brought down in the box. But five minutes later the penalty appeared clearer, except to the referee, as Japan substitute Yui Hasegawa's raised arm made contact with the ball to block a Scotland pass. 

Lana Clelland's 88th-minute belter, which flew into the top corner, would be the only consolation for a team that will no doubt feel hard done by.

'They’re not on the same level as us, but we can’t take our foot off the pedal'

All-purpose midfielder Jade Moore comes in for her first start of the World Cup, and she spoke to Luke Edwards about the challenge this Argentina side pose - and the remarkable story that propelled them to the tournament.

“It is an incredible story,” said Moore, who could start in Le Havre on Friday night as her passing ability may well be needed to unlock a stubborn defence. “It really makes us sit back and appreciate where we are and the backing we have from the FA.

“It definitely brings football back down to the roots of some places, and if we go back, 15, 20 years, it’s where England were at.

“It probably hits home a bit that they’re at a World Cup and these are things they’re having to fight against. We’re here with all this support, the media attention and everything that’s going on at home and it puts us in a really fortunate position, it keeps us grounded.

Moore expects a tough, physical game against the Argentines Credit: GETTY IMAGES

“I definitely think that is a motivating factor for them. When you see their celebrations getting their first point against Japan [in their first game], that was us, we were like that more than a couple of years ago.

“The [Argentina] team is growing, they probably look at us and aspire to be like us, what our FA do for us, and have that backing because look where that backing gets teams.

“We can’t look at Argentina and underestimate them, they’re not on the same level as us, but we can’t take our foot off the pedal because there could be an upset.”

Team news! (Or the Stade Oceane's eleven, if you will)

Neville, as he suggested he would, has shuffled the England pack: Carly Telford, Abbie McManus, Jade Moore and Jodie Taylor all come in, in place of Karen Bardsley, Millie Bright, Keira Walsh and Ellen White.

England: Telford, Bronze, Greenwood, Houghton, Parris, J. Scott, Taylor, Kirby, McManus, Moore, Mead

Argentina: Correa, Barroso, Stabile, Sachs, Cometti, Bravo, Sole Jaimes, Banini, Bonsegundo, Mayorga, Benitez

'This is another game where we’ll have to handle that emotion'

Phil Neville - whose managerial style so far has walked a precarious tightrope between "super-professional" and "a little bit too earnest for me, Clive" - surprised few with his cautionary words ahead of this game. Jason Burt was in Le Havre to hear the England manager warn his players of a highly motivated, and highly physical, Argentina.

“There’s a great history between the countries,” Neville said, citing previous World Cup encounters. “You think back, ’86, Michael Owen’s goal in ’98, Beckham in Sapporo in 2002 was a standout moment … what you’ve got with this game is the football history and rivalry.

“That’s what we’ve got to handle. You’ve got a country which is unbelievably proud. They gave their kids 90 minutes off school to watch the [Japan] game – that’s what it means. They’re going to have that fight … They play like South American teams. This is another game where we’ll have to handle that emotion.”

The relevance of that to the side who take to the field here is to remind them of how fiercely Argentina – with schoolchildren again given time to watch the game – will fight and that was evidenced in the way they celebrated their point against Japan, the first they have gained in a World Cup.

Neville is wary of Argentina's physical power Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Neville’s argument is nuanced. He has not discussed the Maradona “Hand of God” in 1986 or David Beckham’s sending-off in 1998 with the squad – more relevant to them is Jill Scott’s experience of facing Argentina in the 2007 World Cup, which ended in a 6-1 England win – but the point is clear.

“I’ve told the players this is a proud nation,” Neville said. “When you come up against a big, powerful football nation you are playing against history. When you talk about street football you are talking about South American players who have grown up with nothing. This is what this Argentinian team is.”

Yes, let's get it out of the way now...

The word from Le Havre is that the Argentina players are in their dressing room gleefully singing along to“La Mano de Dios” (The Hand of God), by Rodrigo. It is - if you hadn't already gleaned from the title - dedicated to Diego Maradona's first goal against England at the 1986 FIFA World Cup. 

England vs Argentina: it has history Credit: BOB THOMAS

Is 33 years too late for a VAR review? Yep, let's move on. Yes, Peter, even you:

Argy Bargy: Part Deux

Just three members of England's squad were present that night in Chengdu, 12 long years ago, to witness the 6-1 World Cup evisceration of Argentina.

Karen Carney, Jill Scott and back-up goalkeeper Carly Telford - each of them fresh-faced 20-year-olds in 2007 - are now elder stateswomen in Phil Neville's class of 2019, and their message is likely to have been clear: this time it won't be quite so easy.

The tears, the pride and theVamos Argentinas that echoed round the Parc des Princes four days ago, after their first-ever World Cup point, confirmed that the Argentines are still clear underdogs - but that they have some serious bite.

"We represent what an Argentinian woman is," captain Estefania Banini said after the final whistle against a frustrated Japan. "We are used to, rather badly used to, being at a disadvantage and we reflect that on the pitch. It is the first point, the first little step to making football better in Argentina."

Argentina celebrate their goalless draw - and their first-ever World Cup point - against Japan in Paris Credit: GETTY IMAGES

A gulf in quality, facilities and backing (Argentina didn't even play between 2015-17) there may be, but you're unlikely to see one in spirit tonight. And, as much as England were done a group-stage favour by that goalless draw in Paris, it will have sharpened their minds on the job of avoiding their own upset in Le Havre.

A win would put England in a commanding Group D position. Back in 2007, they were set well on their way with a calamitous 9th-minute own goal from Eva Gonzalez, compounded a minute later by a 30-yarder from Scott herself. 12 years on, revenge might be a similarly long shot, but Argentina have come a long, long way - in every sense.