Taylor puts England in World Cup last 16 with game to spare
LE HAVRE, France (AP) — As roommates at the Women's World Cup, Jodie Taylor and Beth Mead have built a connection that helped lead England into the second round of the tournament.
Mead delivered a low cross from the left flank and Taylor sneaked into a central location, nudging the ball into the net to earn a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Friday and secure England's place in the second round with a game to spare in Group D.
"I just knew where Beth was going to play it," Taylor said. "It must be roommates becoming more connected. It was such a good ball from Beth. I do believe the closer you are as a team the better your performance will be on the pitch."
Argentina had frustrated England for 61 minutes and goalkeeper Vanina Correa was nearly flawless — she even stopped a penalty kick — until Taylor and Mead connected on the game-winning goal.
Taylor's goal ended a 540-day scoring drought that had stymied the Golden Boot winner from the 2017 European Championship.
"It's not until people start bringing it up that you start thinking about it," said Taylor, who plays in the U.S. for the Seattle Reign.
England had to be patient against the resilient Argentines, who collected their first ever World Cup point in an opening draw against Japan. Finding a way past Correa wasn't easy.
The 35-year-old goalkeeper was coaxed back into competition after giving birth to twins in 2017 and her appearance in this tournament makes Correa the only Argentine woman to appear in three World Cups.
"Generally, for women goalkeepers, things are changing, we're having better training," she said. "It's not nice to criticize goalkeepers even if we do sometimes make mistakes."
Jill Scott discovered how hard it would be to beat Correa in the 13th minute when her header was collected.
While Nikita Parris scored the first England goal in the opening 2-1 victory over Scotland on Sunday, she missed her chance to do it again. After Linda Bravo's sliding tackle brought down Alex Greenwood, Parris sent her spot kick to the right and Correa pushed it onto the post.
Correa's hand denied Parris, and her foot thwarted Mead just before halftime. When Fran Kirby hooked a ball through to Mead, the low shot was turned away by Correa's outstretched right boot.
"We were thinking when is it actually going to go in?" Alex Greenwood said.
Particularly when in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, Parris had a shot saved and Taylor's header was collected by Correa before she was finally beaten.
"I told Jodie before the game that I knew she would score," England coach Phil Neville said. "You reap your rewards from your training performances. She thrives off service, she thrives off balls through and the support from around her."
England has opened a World Cup with back-to-back wins for the first time and advanced to the next round ahead of its final Group D match against Japan. Italy, France and Germany are also already through to the round of 16 with a game to spare.