England got their SheBelieves Cup campaign off to a very promising start by coming from a goal behind to defeat Brazil 2-1.
Second half goals from Ellen White and Beth Mead overturned Brazil’s controversial first-half penalty.
Lucy Bronze was judged to have fouled Marta in the box but replays showed the Lyon full-back had clearly won the ball before lightly clipping the player. Andressa Alves de Silva dispatched the spot kick and the Lionesses laboured for the remaining 30 minutes of the first half.
They came out after the interval with a renewed sense of energy and purpose. Birmingham City striker White levelled just minutes after the restart with a sumptuous first time shot.
Then 15 minutes from time, substitute Mead hit a wondergoal from outside the box to put England ahead. They saw the game out comfortably and will go into their next game against world champions USA on Saturday brimming with confidence.
Carly Telford – Most people’s third choice stopper and didn’t have many opportunities to convince anybody she deserves a higher billing.
Lucy Bronze – Conceded a penalty after Steph Houghton lost possession in a dangerous area. Won the ball cleanly and was unlucky to have had a smelly refereeing decision go against her, however. Bronze was impressive going forward – getting to the by-line and pulling back to tee up forwards on the edge of the box. Booked for a late tackle in opposition box – always a daft position to pick up a yellow in – but in truth (and much like the penalty) there was little if anything in it.
Steph Houghton - Responsible for giving the ball away in the build-up to the penalty. The captain wasn’t her usually composed self and appeared panicked on the ball, routinely punting it long instead of picking the easiest pass.
Abbie McManus – Had little to do but generally marshalled the back line well with her centre back partner Houghton.
Alex Greenwood – Was a constant thorn in the side of Brazil’s attackers. Harried them off the park in a tenacious display.
Karen Carney - Lost possession on multiple occasions including in some dangerous positions and was lucky Brazil didn’t capitalise. Swung in a dangerous first-half cross which Nikita Parris nearly managed to steer home.
Keira Walsh – Made a vital interception seconds before half time to keep the deficit to just one goal by nudging the ball behind for a corner.
Fran Kirby – Without doubt England’s brightest player. Creative and demonstrated the extent of her vision which makes her such an effective no.10. Looked rusty in front of goal spaffing a couple of efforts wide, an unsurprising consequence of not being in Chelsea’s starting line-ups in recent weeks.
Izzy Christiansen – Linked up with Kirby in the build-up to England’s leveller but didn’t see much of the ball and was subbed off just after the hour mark.
Nikita Parris – Was well marshalled by Brazil’s defence but on occasions where she did get free she looked dangerous. Occupied a wide position and once had the beating of her marker fired a menacing ball across goal but unfortunately, nobody was there to meet it. Got a nasty injury just before the break when she rolled her right ankle but recovered to nod another Carney cross on target which required quick reactions down low to the keeper’s left.
Ellen White – Netted minutes after the restart after some savvy link up play. Kirby picked out her run with a perfectly weighted pass which White latched onto and rolled the ball first time well beyond the keeper’s reach.
Beth Mead – Cut a frustrated figure when she thought she was about to replace Parris before the break. Importantly didn’t get despondent and took her chance when she was eventually called upon. Scored a wonder-goal from wide of the penalty area just ten minutes after coming on. Not entirely clear whether the effort was meant as a shot or cross but ultimately a fantastic strike.
Rachel Daly – Coming on with 20 minutes to play, the utility player allowed Phil Neville to ramp up the offensive pressure. Replaced midfielder Christiansen but filled in at right-back to allow Bronze the freedom to push forward.
Toni Duggan – Subbed on 76th minute and saw little of the ball.
Lucy Staniforth – Subbed on in 87th minute and only had a few touches.
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