Special day for ton-up Smith
Wednesday, 02 March, 2011
Striker Kelly Smith sealed her 100th cap for England with a goal.
by Glenn Lavery in Larnaca, Cyprus
Kelly Smith scored a penalty on her 100th international appearance and in the process helped England beat Italy 2-0 in their opening match of The Cyprus Cup.
Smith, England's record goalscorer and captain for the day, marked the special occasion by firing home from 12 yards after Jess Clarke was tripped by Elisabetta Tona.
Ellen White had scored the opener very early on, taking advantage of a slack back-pass by Roberta D'Adda.
There is certainly room for improvement in terms of performance - and it's worth remembering that these players are still in pre-season training ahead of The FA WSL - but those two goals presented England with a winning start to their Cyprus Cup campaign and also went some way to avenging their defeat to Italy in the opening match of Euro 2009.
They will now prepare for Friday's game against Scotland, who lost their opening game to Canada.
It took just three minutes for England to take the lead in Larnaca, as White capitalised on a weak back pass from Italian right-back D'Adda. The young Arsenal forward pounced on the loose ball, rounded the 'keeper and rolled the ball into an empty net.
Italy recovered from the early set back and began to enjoy a spell of possession which almost brought about the equaliser, though Karen Bardsley reacted quickly to dive at Elisa Camporese's feet before the winger could convert Patrizia Panico's cross.
On 23 minutes Panico, the Italy skipper, called Bardsley into action once more, forcing the England goalkeeper to tip over a delicate 20-yard chip.
Panico should really have levelled matters soon after when attempting to convert Camporese's low centre, but the forward flicked the ball just narrowly beyond the far post. Just moments before that, Smith had received a yellow card for a retaliatory trip on Pamela Conti.
England weren't able to get their passing game going and Italy enjoyed a lot more of the ball in the first half, but it was Hope Powell's side who went in at the break two goals ahead.
On 38 minutes, Clarke bamboozled Elisabetta Tona, forcing the defender into a rash challenge inside the box. Smith stepped up to smash home her 43rd England goal on her 100th international appearance.
As if to justify their advantage, the Three Lions began the second half the brighter. Almost immediately after the re-start, Rachel Yankey slipped a through ball into the box for Ellen White who came agonisingly close with her angled drive. White then flung herself at a cross from Clarke but could only send her diving header over the bar.
The second period became very disjointed with a few players receiving knocks from heavy challenges, and one caused Italy's Camporese to be carried off on a stretcher. She was probably Italy's most dangerous player and had earlier forced Clarke to clear off the line with an 18 yard drive.
The best chance of the half fell to Alessia Tuttino who hit the bar from the edge of the area.
Italy may feel they deserved at least a goal from the game but England can be pleased with the clean sheet and a winning start out here in Cyprus.
Kelly Smith may have reason to smile, too.