Penalty heartache for Alice as England miss out on World Cup

Alice Hassall
Alice Hassall

England Under 17 defender Alice Hassall has lifted the lid on her heartache after missing a crucial penalty against Italy as the young Lionesses missed out on a place at next year’s World Cup.

Alice, 16, from Dinton, missed the opening penalty of a third-place play-off shootout against the Italians in the European Women’s Championship on Sunday.

The carrot on offer to the winner was qualification for next year’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

Alice had already scored a penalty earlier in the tournament during her country’s 6-1 win over Portugal in the group stages of the competition.

The brave Henry Floyd Grammar School pupil said she felt confident before taking the opening kick of the shootout.

She said: “I was feeling confident before the penalties and I volunteered to take the first one.

“I knew there was pressure going first so the other girls did not mind that I started.

“I knew that I wanted to go the same way as when I scored during the Portugal game, but this time I didn’t strike it as cleanly as I would have liked and their keeper managed to get a hand to it and make the save.

“I think my first reaction after the miss was a rude word!”

Alice, who plays for MK Dons, said the most disappointing aspect of the defeat was that the squad missed out on one of their main objectives.

She said: “Once we lost the semi-final to Spain our main focus as a squad was on trying to reach the World Cup finals next year.

“We came so close to achieving our goal and that’s what makes it hard to take.

“There is a slim chance we could get a wildcard into the finals, but that is highly unlikely so we are resigning ourselves to missing out.”

Alice said the squad had no regrets following their semi-final against Spain, which they lost 3-0 last Thursday night.

She said: “Spain are a very good side and they outplayed us on the day.

“They are definitely the best side we came up against in the tournament as they were able to exploit gaps on the pitch unlike our previous opponents.

“Longer term, these matches are very good at helping us to develop as individuals so we can come back stronger in the future.”

Alice added her focus was now on her club side.

She said: “I was worried the girls at the Dons might make comments about me missing one of the penalties but they have been very supportive, as has my coach there and that means a lot.

“I also need to turn my attention back to catching up on my homework so it’s back to reality now!”