Friday, 6 March 2020

Women Football: England lose to USA in SheBelieves Cup

England's defence of their SheBelieves Cup title got off to a disappointing start as two quick second-half goals condemned them to defeat against world champions the United States in Orlando.

It was a sixth defeat in nine games for Phil Neville's side, who have struggled for form since losing to the USA in the World Cup semi-finals.

Christen Press's superb long-range curler put the hosts ahead shortly after half-time and Carli Lloyd made it 2-0 two minutes later

Midfielder Julie Ertz also had a goal ruled out for offside late in the second half as the USA went on to dominate.

The World Cup winners had numerous chances - Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle were denied in the first half - while England's Nikita Parris was offside when she had a close-range header saved.

England face Japan, ranked 10th in the world, in their next match at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on Sunday, 8 March (19:00 GMT kick-off), before playing Spain in the final match of the round-robin event.

Earlier on Thursday, tournament debutants Spain beat Japan 3-1 at the Exploria Stadium thanks to two second-half goals from 21-year-old Lucia Garcia.

Garcia rounded the goalkeeper for both goals after Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas and Japan's Mana Iwabuchi had scored in the first half.
Caught out at the back

Neville made five changes to the starting line-up that narrowly won 3-2 in the Czech Republic and was without injured right-back Lucy Bronze.

Arsenal defender Leah Williamson - naturally a central defender - was drafted in in her place and alongside Steph Houghton, Millie Bright and Alex Greenwood struggled to deal with the runs in behind from the USA's forwards.

Lloyd exploited the space between the centre-backs on several occasions in the first half, failing to capitalise before eventually putting away her chance to make it 2-0.

Greenwood struggled at left-back and Tobin Heath was a constant source of danger for the USA out wide - putting in crosses and getting on the wrong side of the Lyon defender.

Heath set up Lloyd in the first half but the striker's first-time shot was straight at Carly Telford, who had a busy evening in goal for England.

Telford had to be alert to palm away a long-range strike from Lavelle in the first half, before blocking Horan's run after she had managed to squeeze through the two centre-backs.

There was nothing Telford could do about Press's curling opener though - she was allowed to turn under little pressure as England's failure to close down the space was punished.

The USA went on to dominate the second half and though England had a few half chances - a dangerous flick-on from Lauren Hemp in the first half that Jill Scott flicked over - they were comfortably second best against the world champions, who have not conceded a single goal since the tournament in France last summer.
'Huge' rivalry underwhelms

Before this tournament Neville said England's aim was to "overtake the USA" as the best team in the world.

But the Lionesses played like a team ranked five places lower - though they were forced to field a weaker team due to injuries to key players Bronze and Beth Mead.

It was a battle being sold as one of the biggest rivalries in women's football and Ballon d'Or winner Megan Rapinoe said the occasion would be "huge".

The USA fans certainly did their best to build an atmosphere before kick-off - chanting, banging drums and roaring loudly when their team came out to warm-up, as well as enjoying the fireworks after the national anthems were played.

The 16,000 in attendance were treated to some exciting football from the USA. Rapinoe delivered bursts of quality when she came on as a second-half substitute as England were penned into their half for much of the final 30 minutes.

But all-in-all it was an underwhelming contest in comparison to their meeting at the World Cup eight months ago as England looked second best in all areas of the pitch.

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