She shares her name with a renowned country singer and 16-year-old Kara Lang was
She shares her name with a renowned country singer and 16-year-old Kara Lang was certainly on song last night as a hat-trick of supreme quality helped Canada to a 4-0 victory over England in Montreal...
Promising to rotate her squad after the 6-0 defeat on Saturday to the United States, England Head Coach Hope Powell made seven changes for the first of two friendlies against Canada this week.
In an attempt to provide as many players as possible with a flavour of international football against another of the best national sides in the world, Sue Smith, the 23 year old winger from Leeds United lined up as the most capped player on the England side, winning her 43rd cap, whilst Laura Bassett and Carmaine Walker were making only their second appearances for the Three Lions.
In bright sunshine and early summer temperatures in the late seventies at the compact Catlogna Soccerplexe on the outskirts of Montreal, Fulham's Mary Philli, pictured, was handed the honour of captaining her country for the first time on her 19th appearance, with Rachel Brown - the former University of Alabama and Pittsburgh football scholar winning her 20th cap in goal.
The game itself may have become an international football milestone before a ball was kicked, as the Soccerplexe surface was third-generation rubber based turf, although there were no complaints from the visitors when they trained there on Sunday.
When the action got underway it was Canada who started slightly the brighter, with the 16-year-old Lang already in the thick of the action, testing Rachel Brown's agility with a snap shot within four minutes.
The Charlton Athletic front pairing of Carmain Walker and Amanda Barr then linked up well for England after quarter of an hour, giving Kristy Moore no more than a sight of goal, but the Fulham wide player could only slice her shot well wide.
As predicted by Hope Powell in her pre-match assessment of the Canadians, the tactic from the home side was to hit the ball long and try and use the pace of Lang, and veteran of the last game between the two sides in 1995 Charmaine Hooper to get behind Phillip and Laura Bassett.
'Bertie' as she is affectionately known was starting only her second senior international and the young Birmingham defender was performing extremely competently under a heavy aerial bombardment.
On 17 minutes Hooper had the best chance of the game so far when she could only head an Andrea Neil cross straight at Brown, but it was certainly a signal of intent.
Eight minutes later, and another cross from the right by Candace Chapman would begin the build-up to the game's first goal. When Chapman's cross was missed by Kara Lang, the ball drifted down to the left touchline.
Neil - the only other survivor from the 1995 World Cup defeat to the Three Lions - then hung up a left-footed cross back into the box, and as Lang came steaming in at the far post, the ball drifted agonisingly over the fingers of Rachel Brown, and straight into the top right hand corner of the goal.
The goal was harsh on England, as neither side had really settled into a period of dominant possession; however it served only to galvanise the Canadians as they began to crank up the pressure. First Neil headed narrowly wide from a Kristina Kiss free-kick - which also earned Kelly McDougall a yellow card for failing to retreat ten yards - and then on 31 minutes, the omnipresent Lang curled a right-footed shot just wide of the post, as she seemingly popped up on either side of the pitch.
The Canadians doubled their lead on 38 minutes, and it was somewhat inevitable that it should be the young Vancouver Whitecaps forward who got on the scoresheet. A corner from Kristina Kiss sailed across the box, and at the far post, Lang rose to thump a header downwards which kicked off the turf and over Rachel Brown, much to the delight of the crowd of over 2,000 shoehorned around the pitch on benches.
With the half-time whistle approaching England had their best chance of the half. Again Barr and Walker linked up well, breaching the Canadian offside trap. With Sue Smith screaming for the ball in the middle, Carmain Walker squared the perfect ball, but Smith could only loop the ball over the bar - to her own frustration - and the chance to pull a goal back had gone.
At half-time England brought on the experienced Sammy Britton in the middle of the park for Rachel McArthur, and Jody Handley on the right for Kristy Moore, who had been extremely well marshalled down the right flank. Britton was typically immediately in the thick of the action, and on 55 mins almost brought the Three Lions back into it, when her overhead kick from a Smith corner was headed off the line by Brittany Timko.
This signalled the start of a concerted period of pressure for Hope Powell's side. Next Jody Handley whipped in a perfect cross from the right that Kelly McDougall failed to head in by a whisker, and then Amanda Barr tested Taryn Swiatek after a strong run by Mary Phillip from her own half. McDougall again when close on 65 minutes after Sue Smith held the ball up well to create a sight of goal, just seconds after Britton received her second caution of the tour for a foul on Timko.
While a goal now would really have made for an interesting final period, Canada, completely against the run of play effectively killed the game off as a contest. Lang, who by her own first half standards had gone missing at the start of the second moved on to a wonderful diagonal ball from Candace Chapman, took one touch and crashed the ball home from 16 yards, giving Rachel Brown absolutely no chance in the England goal.
Immediately after, the hard-running Barr went off to be replaced by the diminutive figure of Ellen Maggs; a first senior appearance for the young Arsenal striker, and within seconds, Carmaine Walker drilled a shot inches wide after driving in from the touchline.
The final goal of the game came on 73 minutes, and the muscular presence of Lang sealed her hat-trick - her 14th goal in only 21 caps - with another barnstorming goal. Although England will be disappointed to have been caught slightly flat from a throw-in, the finish was venomous as Lang took the ball two strides before hammering the ball high into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.
The goal signalled the end of Canada's attacking intent, as they brought on their full complement of substitutions, while Leanne Champ came on for her third cap to replace Rachel Unitt at left-back.
4-0 was the final scoreline, although former Norway international manager Even Pellerud - responsible for guiding the Canadians to the 2003 World Cup - still wasn't completely happy.
"To beat a team like England 4-0 is a good result, but I still feel that we need to be more consistent," he told TheFA.com. "Our performance was very strong, and although I felt England tired a little, it is clear that they are looking to build now for the next two years, towards the 2005 European Championships."
Talking about his teenage hat-trick scoring heroine, Pellerud was equally forthright. "As a coach it is a dream to find you are working with such a young talent, but Kara still has to apply the same consistency in her game, that our whole squad need to find, if we are to challenge in the World Cup."
Hope was unsurprisingly magnanimous in defeat as she told TheFA.com: "Canada were strong, powerful and clinical, and their victory was well-deserved. In Kara Lang they have a kid who could be a real star of the future, although she still has a lot of development to go through."
"These games are all about gaining experience for our team and I was satisfied in patches with our performance.
"The more games we play against the best sides, the better prepared we will be when we host the European Championships in 2005. We have only had one day to get the players rested and training again for this game, but our coaching team will take all the positives and negatives once more, as we aim to finish on a high on Thursday against Canada in Ottawa."
TheFA.com will bring you more news from the camp over the next two days, before the final game of the tour at 7pm Eastern time (midnight GMT) on Thursday at the Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa.
England: Rachel Brown, Kirsty Pealling, Rachel Unitt (sub Leanne Champ - 74mins), Kelly McDougall, Laura Bassett, Mary Phillip (capt), Kristy Moore (sub Jody Handley - 46 mins), Rachel McArthur (sub Sammy Britton - 46mins), Carmain Walker, Amanda Barr (sub Ellen Maggs - 66mins), Sue Smith
By Alex Stone in Montreal
England v Canada preview