England coach Sarina Wiegman said the Lionesses were beaten by the better side after Spain won the Women’s World Cup with a 1-0 victory in the final on Sunday.
Olga Carmona scored the only goal as Spain kept the European champions at bay and could have won by a bigger margin had England goalkeeper Mary Earps not saved Jennifer Hermoso’s second-half penalty.
“Overall, I think Spain were just a little better than we were today. They had a great tournament, so congrats to Spain,” said Wiegman, who also lost a World Cup final when in charge of the Netherlands four years ago.
“I think everyone has seen an incredible game, a very open game. Two teams that want to play football.”
Wiegman was forced to reshuffle before the tournament when captain Leah Williamson and Beth Mead were both ruled out by cruciate knee ligament injuries.
She then lost Lauren James for two games after the attacker received a red card in the last-16 against Nigeria.
Wiegman praised her players for adapting to so many setbacks, but said it did not dull the pain of falling at the final hurdle.
“Of course it feels really bad now. You go to the final, you want to give everything to win the final, then you lose it,” she added.
“That happens in sport.
“What we have done, how we have shown ourselves as a team, how we want to play, overcoming so many challenges, I feel we can be very proud of ourselves. Even though it doesn’t feel that way at the moment.”
England captain Millie Bright said the Lionesses were left heartbroken after bouncing back from a slow start to the tournament to reach the final for the first time.
“We’re heartbroken. We gave everything, unfortunately we just weren’t there today,” said the Chelsea defender.
“The girls are unbelievable. We had a lot of critics at the start of the tournament, a few lost belief in us, but we never stopped believing in ourselves.
“We had full belief, but sometimes football goes for you, sometimes it goes against you.
“We’ve played in a World Cup final. In a few weeks we’ll appreciate this day and coming second, but it’s hard to take because we’re winners, we want to win.”
England nearly got off to a flying start when Lauren Hemp struck the bar.
But Spain were rarely troubled after Carmona’s strike in the 29th minute.
“In the first-half we weren’t at our best,” added Bright. “Second-half we definitely bounced back, showed our fight, showed our character and we had chances.
“We hit the bar, but we just didn’t have that final edge today.”
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