A brilliant display has seen Hope Powell's England Women's side beat Italy 4-1 in Milton Keynes.
FA Women’s International, in partnership with Nationwide
17 February 2005
MK Dons FC, National Hockey Stadium
National Coach Hope Powell was understandably delighted after seeing her England team continue the build-up to the Women’s Euro 2005 with a conclusive 4-1 victory over Italy at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes.
Goals by Fara Williams, Jody Handley, Amanda Barr and substitute Karen Carney gave England a third successive win and their first in 11 matches against Italy, who at tenth in FIFA’s world rankings are four places higher than Powell’s team.
"I’m really pleased with that performance," said the National Coach after a game played in front of a highly enthusiastic crowd of 6,546 at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes.
"It was a good all-round display," she added. "We scored some good goals, the back line was outstanding and the kids did exceptionally well."
The ‘kids’ included 17 year-old Birmingham City striker Carney, who became the youngest player to be handed a senior debut during Powell’s six years as National Coach when she entered the action at half-time.
There were also debuts for 20-year-old Wolves midfielder Emily Westwood and Birmingham goalkeeper Jo Fletcher, 24, the latter having to make only a couple of saves before a wicked deflection from Deiana Damiana’s 80th minute free-kick gave Italy their consolation goal.
England had co-incidentally opened the scoring through a deflection, Everton midfielder Fara Williams sending in a powerful 25th minute drive which struck a defender before flying past the wrong-footed goalkeeper Carla Brunozzi.
Striker Barr, one of four Birmingham players in the starting line-up, had earlier missed a good chance but the first goal, fortuitous though it may have been, settled any lingering nerves among the England players and they stepped up the pace to devastating affect.
Three minutes after the opener Barr crossed from the right and Everton striker Handley, after Brunozzi had spilled the ball under pressure from Westwood, scored from close range.
In a rare Italian attack Fletcher saved bravely at the feet of striker Ilaria Pasqui, but England were quickly back on the offensive and Barr netted the third goal from 15 yards after latching on to a clever 37th minute through-ball from the outstanding Williams.
The home side maintained control after the break and Westwood should have marked her debut with a goal in the 63rd minute, when she shot straight at Brunozzi from 15 yards, but that disappointment was forgotten 60 seconds later when Carney hit the fourth goal.
The youngster’s first shot was blocked by Brunozzi after good work by substitute Eniola Aluko, the Charlton Athletic striker, had created the opening, but from the rebound Carney guided the ball just inside the far post.
After putting themselves in an unassailable position England eased off and conceded a goal when Damiana’s 20 yard free-kick struck Westwood to fly past Fletcher.
Despite that unfortunate late blip Powell’s team coasted to a morale boosting victory on the road to the Women’s Euro 2005, to be played in the north west of England during June.
"We got a bit scrappy towards the end and I wasn’t happy about that," said Powell, "but that’s something we have to learn from. It showed that there’s still work to be done ahead of the Euro tournament, but it was still a great result for us.
"We’re not at the tournament yet and we can’t get carried away, but the hard work that the girls have put in over the past couple of years is beginning to show and I’m really pleased for every one of them after that performance."
England (4-4-1-1): Jo Fletcher (Birmingham City); Alex Scott (Birmingham City), Faye White (Arsenal), Mary Phillip (Arsenal), Rachel Unitt (Everton); Jody Handley (Everton) (sub. Karen Carney (Birmingham City) HT), Fara Williams (Everton), Katie Chapman (Charlton Athletic), Rachel Yankey (Birmingham City) (sub. Sue Smith (Leeds United) 64); Emily Westwood (Wolves); Amanda Barr (Birmingham City) (Sub. Eniola Aluko (Charlton Athletic) HT).
Italy (4-3-3): Carla Brunozzi; Deiana Damiana, Elena Ficarelli, Viviana Schiavi, Tatiana Zorri; Elisa Camporese, Sara di Filippo, Piera Maglio (Meliana Gabbiadini HT); Iliaria Pasqui, Patrizia Panico, Valentina Boni (Valentina Lanzieri HT).
Bookings: Damiana (29), Booked: Chapman (78)