England Women won the Cyprus Cup for a third time courtesy of Lianne Sanderson’s second-half goal against Canada.
The Three Lions' previous two wins in the final of this competition, in 2009 and 2013, came at the expense of the Canadians and Sanderson’s cool finish made it a hat-trick of victories over the World Cup hosts.
England Women 1-0 Canada
GSZ Stadium, Larnaca
Wednesday 11 March 2015
It was the only goal John Herdman’s side conceded in this year’s competition, and it consigned them to their first defeat in 10 matches.
And England's victory could provide Mark Sampson’s squad with a timely boost ahead of this summer’s showpiece event.
They reached the Cyprus Cup final after group stage wins over Finland and Australia and a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands.
There were nine changes from that draw with the Dutch with only Alex Greenwood and Jordan Nobbs, who captained England for the first time, keeping their place.
And there was a first England appearance in two and a half years for Chelsea left-back Claire Rafferty following her comeback from a third ACL injury.
After a tense start, the game opened up as both goalkeepers were called into action. Manchester City midfielder Jill Scott forced Erin McLeod to tip her side-footed shot over the bar while Arsenal stopper Siobhan Chamberlain got down smartly to save Christine Sinclair’s low effort from 12 yards.
The irrepressible Sinclair was the focal point of Canada’s attacking play and she might have done better than head wide a cross from Adriana Leon, who replaced Melissa Tancredi, midway through the first half.
The game’s one true moment of quality came on 67 minutes when Sanderson finished off a tidy England move.
Highlights of the Lionesses' victory in the Cyprus Cup Final
Greenwood and Rafferty cleared up at the back and the latter played the ball out wide to Nobbs.
The skipper’s ball forward was flicked on by Jodie Taylor and Arsenal striker Sanderson raced on to it, advanced into the area and curled a fine finish beyond McLeod for her second goal of the tournament.
It was a rare moment of brilliance in an otherwise uneventful contest, but it will matter not to Sampson, who, on the eve of the competition, challenged his side to “win every match” in the build-up to the World Cup.
Canada left-back Allysha Chapman almost equalised in the fifth minute of added time, but Chamberlain produced a wonderful save high to her left to secure the Cyprus Cup for a third time. It was as crucial an intervention as Sanderson's winner.
England have one more home match before they fly to Canada in June.
They entertain China at Manchester City’s new Academy Stadium on Thursday 9 April.
Tickets, priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for concessions, are available via www.MCFC.co.uk/Tickets or in person at the Manchester City box office at Etihad Stadium.
England (4-4-2): 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal); 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal), 6 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 14 Alex Greenwood (Notts County), 23 Claire Rafferty (Chelsea); 7 Jordan Nobbs (C; Arsenal), 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 16 Fara Williams (Liverpool), 11 Karen Carney (Birmingham City); 9 Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns), 22 Lianne Sanderson (Arsenal).
Substitutes: 12 Gemma Bonner (Liverpool) for Rafferty 68, 17 Katie Chapman (Chelsea) for J Scott 68, 18 Jade Moore (Birmingham City) for Taylor 88, 10 Fran Kirby (Reading) for Carney 90.
Substitutes not used: 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), 3 Demi Stokes (Manchester City), 4 Jo Potter (Birmingham City), 15 Amy Turner (Notts County), 19 Jess Clarke (Notts County), 20 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), 21 Carly Telford (Notts County).
Goal: Sanderson 67
Bookings: Rafferty 59, Taylor 88
Head coach: Mark Sampson
Canada: 1 Erin McLeod, 3 Kadeisha Buchanan, 7 Rhian Wilkinson, 9 Josee Belanger, 11 Desiree Scott, 12 Christine Sinclair (C), 13 Sophie Schmidt, 14 Melissa Tancredi, 15 Allysha Chapman, 22 Ashley Lawrence, 25 Rebecca Quinn.
Substitutes: 19 Adriana Leon for Tancredi 26, 18 Janine Beckie for Belanger 76, 4 Carmelina Moscato for Quinn 67, 17 Jessie Fleming for Lawrence 67.
Substitutes not used: 21 Stephanie Labbe, 23 Karina Le Blanc, 2 Emily Zurrer, , 5 Robyn Gayle, 16 Jonelle Filigno, 20 Marie-Eve Nault, 26 Christina Julien, 27 Selenia Iacchelli.
Bookings: Leon 31, Chapman 81, Beckie 85
Head coach: John Herdman