An unstoppable 20-yard strike by Crystal Dunn gave world champions USA a hard-fought 1-0 win over England Women in the SheBelieves Cup.
In a match where clear goal chances were few and far between, Mark Sampson’s side more than held their own for 72 minutes against their illustrious opponents.
The Lionesses had a penalty shout turned down in the first half and Toni Duggan forced Hope Solo into a smart save shortly after the restart.
USA 1-0 England
The SheBelieves Cup
Friday 4 March
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
But Jill Ellis’s charges grabbed all three points thanks to Dunn’s thunderous effort.
England started brightly at the Raymond James Stadium and forced USA onto the back foot, though the first clear opening fell to the hosts’ Alex Morgan, whose goal had defeated England the last time these two sides met, in Milton Keynes last February.
Mallory Pugh, a pacy 17-year-old winger, sprinted down the left and delivered a low cross towards Morgan but the Orlando Pride forward could only turn the ball wide of Karen Bardsley’s near post.
Seven of USA’s starting 11 began last year’s World Cup final in Canada, but they were unable to impose themselves on their visitors in a fairly even first half.
Lionesses skipper Steph Houghton drilled a centrally-placed free-kick straight into the defensive wall midway through the half as Sampson’s side found chances hard to come by.
England did have a shout for a penalty dismissed when the ball appeared to hit Becky Sauerbrunn’s arm inside the box, but referee Tatiana Guzman waved away the claims.
The Lionesses’ best chance fell to Manchester City forward Duggan, who broke into the right-hand side of the USA box and fired a low shot goalwards, but Solo, on her 191st cap, got down well and held onto the ball.
And the world champions made England pay shortly after when Meghan Klingenberg found substitute Dunn, on for Pugh, on the edge of the area and the Washington Spirit defender unleashed a fantastic strike into the top right-hand corner which gave Bardsley no chance.
England, who brought Eniola Aluko into the fray late on for her 99th cap, were unable to find a late equaliser as USA used all their experience to see the game out and claim an opening-day victory in front of 13,027 – a record for the US Women’s national team in Tampa.
The opening SheBelieves Cup match, between Germany and France, finished 1-0 to Silvia Neid’s side, who England face in Nashville on Sunday.
USA: 1 Hope Solo, 2 Mallory Pugh, 4 Becky Sauerbrunn, 5 Kelley O’Hara, 7 Meghan Klingenberg, 10 Carli Lloyd (C), 13 Alex Morgan, 14 Morgan Brian, 15 Emily Sonnett, 17 Tobin Heath, 22 Lindsey Horan.
Substitutes: 12 Christen Press for Horan 63, 16 Crystal Dunn for Pugh 67, 8 Julie Johnson for Morgan 80, 11 Ali Krieger for O’Hara 80, 6 Whitney Engen for Klingenberg 90.
Substitutes not used: 3 Samantha Mewis , 9 Heather O’Reilly, 18 Ashlyn Harris, 19 Jaelene Hinkle, 20 Lauren Barnes, 21 Alyssa Naeher.
Goal: Dunn 72
Head coach: Jill Ellis
England (4-4-2): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 2 Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), 5 Steph Houghton (C; Manchester City), 6 Gilly Flaherty (Chelsea), 3 Alex Greenwood (Liverpool); 4 Fara Williams (Arsenal), 7 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 11 Demi Stokes (Manchester City); 19 Toni Duggan (Manchester City), 9 Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns).
Substitutes: 18 Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City) for Greenwood 65, 10 Karen Carney (Chelsea) for Williams 77, 22 Fran Kirby (Chelsea) for Taylor 78, 20 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea) for Duggan 88.
Substitutes not used: 12 Alex Scott (Arsenal), 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), 14 Claire Rafferty (Chelsea), 15 Casey Stoney (Arsenal), 16 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 17 Katie Chapman (Chelsea), 21 Carly Telford (Notts County), 23 Gemma Davison (Chelsea).
Head coach: Mark Sampson
Referee: Tatiana Guzman (NIC)