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12m watch Lionesses in brave World Cup struggle

Big screen: London’s Battersea Park PICTURE: SWNS

MORE people watched England’s Lionesses’ World Cup semi-final on TV than tuned in to see Liverpool play Spurs in their Champions League decider, official figures reveal.

The nail-biting 1-2 defeat against the USA attracted 11.73million viewers at its peak — the highest TV audience of the year.

In contrast, last month’s European club football’s showpiece was watched by 11.3million people.

The semi-final was also more popular than the final episode of BBC1’s Line Of Duty and the climax of ITV1’s Britain’s Got Talent, which both peaked at 9.6million.

And the BBC revealed that the game was also requested 1.7million times on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport online, making it the most requested women’s match of all time in Britain.

Broadcaster Gabby Logan was among those celebrating the record number of viewers. She said the figures were ‘super’ — ‘a record breaker for women’s football and a fitting tribute to the Lionesses’ inspiring campaign’.

England’s women — including Metro columnist Lucy Bronze and the tournament’s joint top scorer Ellen White — remain in France for a third-place play-off on Saturday.

Yesterday the crestfallen footballers tried to put a brave face on Tuesday night’s disappointment in Lyon. Bronze rallied around captain Steph Houghton, who missed the late penalty that could have drawn England level.

She said: ‘I’ve spoke to her but Steph knows exactly what we all think of her. She’s our captain and it’s not easy to step up in a World Cup semi-final to try to score a penalty — I think everyone in the nation will take their hats off to her for even stepping up to do that.

‘It’s a huge amount of pressure to take and just because she’s not scored a penalty the blame is not on her. We’re a team and we win and lose together.’

Meanwhile, match-winning USA striker Alex Morgan defended her ‘tea-drinking’ celebration after scoring the game’s decisive goal, saying: ‘I wanted to keep it interesting.’