Goalkeeping in women’s football is often the subject of intense criticism.
But Argentina goalkeeper Vanina Correa put in a brilliant performance to frustrate England in the Lionesses’ 1-0 Women’s World Cup win.
The 35-year-old made six saves against Phil Neville’s side, including an acrobatic stop from Nikita Parris’s penalty – and she was only beaten once, by Jodie Taylor’s 61st-minute back-post finish from Beth Mead’s fine cross.
“Their goalkeeper was incredible,” Neville told BBC Sport after the game.
“I saw her before the game and she was unbelievable, even in the warm-up. What you’ve seen tonight is an unbelievable goalkeeping performance.
“There’s a lot of criticism about goalkeepers in the women’s game. But tonight you’ve seen two outstanding keepers, in particular Argentina’s one.
“In the last 12 months the coaching has improved that standard incredibly. There is not enough respect for goalkeepers.”
For Correa, this performance – albeit in defeat – was a form of redemption.
Her previous experiences at World Cups were also memorable, but for very different reasons.
In 2007 she played in an 11-0 defeat by Germany, fumbling two corners into her own net, and was dropped for the remaining two games. Until the US beat Thailand 13-0 on Tuesday, that remained the largest World Cup defeat ever.
Four years earlier she had been an unused substitute.
After Argentina failed to qualify for the 2011, Correa felt she would never play at a World Cup again – and quit football the following year. In 2014 she had twins Luna and Romeo.
But Correa started playing football with her friends again and was persuaded to come back to international football in 2017, despite juggling a day job – she is an amateur footballer – and looking after her children.
And this time she has enjoyed herself much more, keeping a clean sheet against Japan in their opening game before her player-of-the-match performance against England in Le Havre.
“Generally, for women goalkeepers, things are changing,” she said after the game. “We’re having better training. It’s not nice to criticise goalkeepers even if we do sometimes make mistakes.”
Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis was at the game for BBC Radio 5 Live. “What a great moment for Correa – she’s 35. She’s one of us old girls,” said the ex-Everton player.
“Having that spell of six years out and having had two children, who would have watched this, what a moment for her. You saw what it meant to her and her players. Talk about goosebumps – she saved a penalty in a World Cup. I wish I’d done that.”
Correa’s saves included a good stop with her feet from Beth Mead and denying Parris’s shot through a crowd of bodies.
She attempted 30 passes, eight more than any of her outfield players. Her 41 touches was only three behind anyone else on her team.
It was also a good day for the other goalkeeper on the pitch, England’s Carly Telford.
The 31-year-old had been an unused substitute at the 2007 and 2015 World Cups, and Euro 2017 – but finally made her tournament debut, keeping a clean sheet after being brought in for the rested Karen Bardsley.
“It was overwhelming,” she told BBC Sport. “The crowd was fantastic. I waited a really long time but I would have waited longer. Phil thought it was the right choice for tonight. I made my debut and got a clean sheet. It doesn’t get much better than that.
“Since I made my debut at 18 years old I have been champing at the bit to be a part of it but I wouldn’t have changed my journey, I wouldn’t have changed who I am. If I get more minutes, I get more minutes but I’ll just do whatever it takes to win this World Cup.”