England winger Beth Mead believes the Lionesses gave a performance that was good enough to win them the game in the Women's World Cup semi-final against the United States on Tuesday night, with only the finest of margins seeing the team fall cruelly short.
Goals from Christen Press and Alex Morgan either side of an Ellen White equaliser ultimately handed victory to the Americans in front of more than 50,000 fans in Lyon.
But England had come so close to drawing level for a second time when White had a goal ruled out for offside after a VAR review and Steph Houghton saw a penalty saved by Alyssa Naeher.
"Heartbroken; disappointed; a tough one to take," Mead told 90min's Ben Haines after the final whistle.
The Arsenal star, who replaced Toni Duggan in the starting line up for the game, provided the assist for White's first-half equaliser with a deadly cross from the left flank and was disappointed England weren't able to exploit that side of the pitch more often.
There’s always an opportunity to show class in both winning and losing.— Ben Haines (@benhainess) July 2, 2019
Despite being the losing side, thought the @Lionesses players were a class act tonight again and have been throughout the tournament.
Hurting and gutted for all of them right now.#ENGUSA #lionesses
"I was a bit angry I couldn't get on the ball more," Mead explained. "I think we could have played through the left side a lot more and we probably could have created a lot more chances because that was where our first one came from.
"We'll criticise ourselves later, but I thought the girls were amazing. It was a performance that could have won us the game," she added.
With England banging on the door to find an equaliser, the narrow USA win wasn't secure until the final whistle blew deep into stoppage time and it sums up the attitude of this Lionesses squad.
"We've got a winning mentality and we want to go out and win games. We put the pressure on, but we didn't take our penalty and were unlucky with the [offside] decision on VAR, and that's how games go," Mead commented.
Support for the team from back home during the tournament has been massive, and has even been growing to incredible new levels as the team progressed through the rounds.
The UK television audience during the semi-final peaked at a stunning 11.7m, 50.8% of the audience share, and became the most watched programme on UK television so far in 2019.
The key now is for that support for the women's game to continue and translate to the domestic club scene as the 2019/20 Women's Super League campaign now approaches.
"I really hope it does [continue at WSL level]," Mead said. "The support back home has been amazing and I really hope it helps the next generation of footballers get involved and hopefully we can take it to a new level in England again."