Just Women’s Sports is here with your daily World Cup Digest, breaking down all of the biggest storylines from each day of action in Australia and New Zealand.
An early goal from Lauren James proved the winner for England in Friday’s 1-0 defeat of Denmark. Yet while the win advances the Lionesses to the knockout stage, they may have to move forward without star midfielder Keira Walsh.
Walsh exited the match on a stretcher after sustaining what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the 35th minute. She twisted awkwardly while trying to intercept a pass and could be seen telling team medical staff: “I’ve done my knee.”
The Barcelona midfielder has been key to England’s success over the past year, including in the team’s run to the 2022 Euros title.
“Everything came through Keira,” former England striker Ellen White told the BBC. “There wasn’t a plan B. I dreaded to think of the idea of us ever losing her because she was one of our best players. Beth Mead was scoring all the goals but all of our play came through Keira. She was the key cog, everything moved through her. I just don’t know who England are going to have now in that 6 [defensive midfield position], or even potential double 6, role.”
The Lionesses already had been decimated with injuries in the lead-up to the tournament. Beth Mead and Leah Williamson are out with ACL tears, while Fran Kirby is also missing the World Cup with an injury. Earlier this month, Walsh had told the PA news agency that an injury was “a massive worry” every time she stepped onto the field.
“Look at the resources the men have as well, I don’t think that’s available to us and we are being asked to play close to what they play in a season now without the kind of resources behind it,” she said. “The medical teams, they work so hard but it’s impossible to keep everybody fresh all the time and we’re playing so many games and I think – with the introduction of the Nations League as well – it’s going to be difficult and you see how many ACL injuries there have been and how many players are getting injured.
“I would be lying if I say it’s not a worry for me every time I go on the pitch that I’m going to get injured next.”
Following the win, England manager Sarina Wiegman wouldn’t give any information on the injury.
“Of course I’m concerned because she couldn’t walk off the pitch but we don’t know yet so we can’t make any assumptions,” she said. “Let’s wait until we have a diagnosis then I can tell you.”
After South Africa took a two-goal lead in the 66th minute, all signs pointed to South Africa taking home its first World Cup win. But a Sophia Braun strike in the 74th minute provided a spark for Argentina, and Romina Nuñéz struck in the 79th minute to tie the score at 2-2.
While the two sides played hard in the final minutes, neither team could find the back of the net again. Both Argentina and South Africa are still looking for their first-ever wins. Argentina is just the second team to have multiple matches in which they’ve come back from a two-plus goal deficit and not lost, joining Nigeria.
Romina Núñez finds the equalizer for Argentina 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/7V6DCuDK7V— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 28, 2023
Romina Núñez finds the equalizer for Argentina 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/7V6DCuDK7V