England’s Women continued their impressive run in the SheBelieves Cup with a 2-2 draw against world champions the USA.
The Lionesses again started slowly and had to come from behind after a dipping howitzer from Megan Rapinoe put the USA ahead. Shortly after, Steph Houghton seized a big chance – an indirect free-kick which she coolly whipped around the wall and just inside the post before Nikita Parris gave Phil Neville’s side the lead in the second half.
But keeping the tournament hosts at bay for the remaining 40 minutes was always going to prove tough and they eventually succumbed to a ugly equaliser after some six-yard box pinball. Despite that, England can take great confidence from their performance against the number one ranked side in the world.
They can now look forward to a showdown against Japan on Tuesday where the winners will be crowned SheBelieves Cup 2019 champions.
Karen Bardsley – Came in for Carly Telford but didn’t do much to convince she deserves the No.1 jersey outright. Powerless to prevent the USA’s opener but was generally poor at set-pieces, often caught flapping and can’t have instilled much confidence in her defenders.
Rachel Daly – Largely had a good game and was always willing to get forward down the right flank and offer support in attack. Tried desperately to clear before the USA equaliser and was unlucky not to keep it out. An important utility player for England and one you feel could make a decisive impact on any game.
Steph Houghton – Started off in the same form as the Brazil game, losing possession frequently and too often misplacing passes. Did make one important tackle in the box to deny Alex Morgan and did well not to concede a penalty. Her class shone through the fog of form, however, and she got England back into the game at a vital time with an inch-perfect indirect free-kick into the bottom right. The goal seemed to fire her up as much as the rest of the team but they may not get away with another slow start against Japan.
Abbie McManus – Made a goal-saving clearance in first minute but apart from that her marking was questionable and too often was seen as a soft target for USA attacks. Notably was turned inside out by Tobin Heath who was then allowed to square for the highly dangerous US striker Alex Morgan who thankfully fired over. Still got work to do to show her worth to this team. On current form she will lose her place to the injured Millie Bright in a heartbeat.
Demi Stokes – Didn’t have too much to do other than a few 50-50 challenges when she was solid. A cautious showing, Stokes didn’t demonstrate much willing to contribute to attacks.
Nikita Parris – Showed the composure to rival the best players in the world in combination with superb technique for her well-taken goal. After making an intelligent darting run, she took one touch to control before smacking it into the far corner with her next. Never looked like missing.
Keira Walsh – Dictated the play well from midfield and looked to cause all kinds of problems for the USA. A creative force that is so important to Neville’s tactical philosophy, Walsh was a big reason why England matched the USA in terms of possession and passing accuracy.
Lucy Bronze – The midfield engine in England’s bonnet. Personified the spirit that Phil Neville spoke about before the tournament. Fought hard for every loose ball and proved smart on the ball. Started the attack for England’s second goal carving the midfield open.
Toni Duggan – Kept quiet all afternoon and was well marshalled by a good USA defence. No evidence of the goal-scoring prowess she shows so regularly for Barcelona.
Fran Kirby – Didn’t see nearly as much of the ball as in the first game against Brazil but used it effectively and efficiently when she did get on it. Outstanding vision to spot run of Parris for England’s second and again proved herself as a vital cog of this team.
Ellen White – Clearly seen as the biggest threat by USA’s defence and was shackled accordingly. Her best chance of the game came from pressuring the USA into making an error before the Birmingham City striker hit a rocket of a half volley which fizzed just wide.
Beth Mead – Used her physicality to give England a much-needed outlet by holding the ball up and allowing her teammates to progress up the pitch.
Georgia Stanway – Came on for the final ten minutes but was unable to make an impression.
Jodie Taylor – Made an instant impact after coming on for the last few minutes. Her first contribution was to win a corner from pressing and harrying her opponents. Demonstrated her worth to this squad even in that short cameo appearance.
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