England coach Hope Powell praises Karen Walker after her brace against Iceland..
England coach Hope Powell hailed the performance of her captain Karen Walker tonight after two goals from the veteran striker kept England's World Cup dreams alive.
The 2-2 draw sets up a thrilling World Cup play-off semi-final second leg in Birmingham next Sunday, but England were made to work hard for the result.
Walker twice clawed back the deficit, her last effort coming with just minutes of the match remaining, after goals from Olga Faerseth and Erla Hendriksdottir looked to have given the hosts the edge.
"Karen at the end was running around like a 20-year-old. You could just see the passion she had," declared Powell. She led by example and all credit to her, she deserved the player of match award.
"If she can keep running around like that I don't care if she is 50." She added: "That was probably her best game, certainly since I've been in charge. I think she recognises she is not getting any younger and the next World Cup, if we qualify for the finals, will probably be her last."
England were almost made to pay for the host of missed chances in the first half, which the dominated almost from the start. "If you don't score you don't deserve any more than what we got," admitted Powell.
"At the end of day I am pleased with a draw. Even if we had lost I'd have been pleased with an away goal to be honest, so it puts us in a good position.
"The girls were a bit disappointed but on reflection I think they're pleased to score two goals away from home, but credit to Iceland I thought they did well."
She continued: "We don't want to get carried away. We've got two great goals away from home, we've got a point. But Sunday is a different day, a different game."
Iceland coach Jorundur Aki Sveinsson was disappointed his side had not managed to hold out for victory. "Our game plan was to keep a clean sheet and to may be score one or two goals,'' he explained.
"We scored the two goals but we also conceded two as well. It's going to be a tough trip to Birmingham for us but we are hopeful. I believe we can still go further in this competition.''
As for the penalty chance, when Margret Olafsdottir went down down in the box under a challenge from England midfielder Sammy Britton midway through the first half, Sveinsson insisted: "There is no doubt in my mind that was a penalty. I think the referee (Katriina Elovirta) from Finland did not really have a good day today."