England have last 16 in sights after win over Mexico

Saturday 13 Jun 2015
Fran Kirby celebrates after breaking the deadlock

England Women are off the mark in the World Cup after late goals from Fran Kirby and Karen Carney secured victory over Mexico.

Mark Sampson’s charges lost their Group F opener to France and started the day bottom of the table.

But they are now second, behind Colombia, and in contention for a place in the last 16 after the South Americans defeated Les Bleues 2-0 in Saturday's early kick-off.

England 2-1 Mexico

FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Group F
Saturday 13 June
Moncton Stadium, New Brunswick, Canada

The top two in each group are guaranteed to progress to the knockout stages, while the four best third-placed teams will also advance.

Kirby poked home the opening goal on 71 minutes and Carney headed in an Alex Greenwood cross with eight minutes remaining.

Fabiola Ibarra pulled a goal back in added time but England held on for all three points.

The scoreline flattered Mexico as the Lionesses were the better side for the majority of the game, but found Mexican goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago difficult to beat.

There were three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to France, with Jade Moore, Toni Duggan and Kirby replacing Alex Scott, Katie Chapman and Ellen White.

Both sides took a while to find their feet amid the hot and humid conditions at Moncton Stadium.

Kirby Bronze

Fran Kirby got England off the mark

Mexico captain Nayeli Rangel and Monica Ocampo both miscued shots at goal which dipped under Karen Bardsley’s crossbar and the Manchester City goalkeeper was on-hand to pluck the ball from the air both times.

England’s first clear opportunity came when a neat exchange between the impressive Lucy Bronze and Jill Scott on the right allowed the latter to play the ball square to Kirby inside the box. The 21-year-old’s shot was on target but lacked the power to trouble Santiago.

Suddenly the Lionesses upped the ante and put Mexico under pressure for the remainder of the half. Kirby had another crack at goal, as did Duggan, but Santiago was behind them both.

Williams, England’s most capped player of all time, then got involved and hit a trademark 30-yarder just over the top.

But the closest either side came in the opening period was when Eniola Aluko picked up the ball on the left, cut inside and curled a right-foot shot against the bar. It would have been a memorable way for the striker to break her World Cup duck.

Eni Aluko

Eni Aluko came close with a first-half effort

Sampson’s side looked dangerous going forward but they remained alert at the back, with Bardsley reacting well to block Renae Cuellar’s shot after the goalkeeper’s clearance ricocheted off Laura Bassett.

The head coach made a straight switch at left-back, bringing on Greenwood for Claire Rafferty – and the Notts County defender immediately injected some urgency down her flank.

It was from one Greenwood cross that Aluko came close once more. This time the 28-year-old’s low shot on the turn was palmed away by Santiago.

The Lionesses were on top but needed a slice of good fortune to prevent them from going behind when Ocampo’s deep corner missed everyone and hit the bar, only for Alina Garciamendez to blaze the rebound over the top.

Finally the pressure told as some intricate build-up play around the penalty box was finished off when Kirby picked up the ball, jinked into the area and prodded the ball home.

The relief was palpable.

Kirby Potter

Delight as England beat Mexico

Aluko came close once more before two substitutes combined to seal all three points.

Greenwood found enough space down the left to dig out a cross to the back post where Carney was left unmarked. The Birmingham City captain had the simplest of tasks and nodded home from close range.

Ibarra pulled a goal back in added time after Bardsley could only parry Corral’s shot, but England held on comfortably and are right back in the frame for a place in the last 16.

England’s final group match is against Colombia on Wednesday.

England (4-3-3): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 12 Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), 5 Steph Houghton (captain; Manchester City), 6 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 3 Claire Rafferty (Chelsea); 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 4 Fara Williams (Liverpool), 11 Jade Moore (Birmingham City); 22 Fran Kirby (Reading), 9 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), 18 Toni Duggan (Manchester City).

Substitutes: 14 Alex Greenwood (Notts County) for Rafferty 53, 10 Karen Carney (Birmingham City) for J Scott 66, 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal) for Bronze 85

Substitutes not used: 7 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal), 15 Casey Stoney (Arsenal), 16 Katie Chapman (Chelsea), 17 Jo Potter (Birmingham City), 19 Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns), 20 Lianne Sanderson (Arsenal), 21 Carly Telford (Notts County), 23 Ellen White (Notts County).

Goals: Kirby 71, Carney 82

Bookings: Carney 90

Head coach: Mark Sampson

Mexico: 1 Cecilia Santiago, 2 Kenti Robles, 4 Alina Garciamendez, 6 Jennifer Ruiz, 7 Nayeli Rangel (C), 9 Charlyn Corral, 10 Stephany Mayor, 11 Monica Ocampo, 15 Bianca Sierra, 17 Veronica Perez, 19 Renae Cuellar.

Substitutes: 5 Valeria Miranda for Sierra HT, 20 Maria Sanchez for Cuellar 77, 22 Fabiola Ibarra for Ocampo 88

Substitutes not used: 3 Christina Murillo, 8 Teresa Noyola, 12 Pamela Tajonar, 13 Greta Espinoza, 14 Arianna Romero, 16 Monica Alvarado, 18 Amanda Perez, 21 Anisa Guajardo, 23 Emily Alvarado.

Goal: Ibarra 90+1

Bookings: Garciamendez 64

Head coach: Leonardo Cuellar

Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley

Attendance: 13,138

By Glenn Lavery in Moncton Stadium, New Brunswick