Sunday, 13 March 2005
The Algarve Cup
Everton midfielder Fara Williams scored twice as England ended the group stage of the Algarve Cup with a resounding victory.
In their first ever meeting with Mexico, England’s other goals came from Everton striker Jody Handley, Birmingham City winger Rachel Yankey and Leeds United winger Sue Smith.
England finished top of the four-team Group C with a 100 per cent record, Sunday’s result stretching their winning sequence to six matches - the national team’s best run for 18 years.
They have also found a rich scoring vein, hitting 17 goals in their last four matches after netting only five in their previous five outings.
After their biggest win since beating Scotland 5-0 in November 2003, Hope Powell’s team were comfortably the highest scorers in the group phase of the Algarve tournament.
That was particularly pleasing for the National Coach, who said: "We’ve started scoring goals and it’s a bonus that they’re coming from all areas of the team.
"Having said that, we were okay in patches today but not in others, although we were better in the second half than we had been in the first. But with five goals and another clean sheet I can’t be miserable.
"We’ve so far played against teams we’d be expected to beat, but you still have to go out and beat them and generally speaking the girls have done well."
Against an erratic Mexican team, England’s strongest line-up of the tournament to date were in control from the moment that Williams shot them ahead from a second minute pass by Birmingham City striker Amanda Barr.
As Mexico tried to force an equaliser winger Patricia Perez headed narrowly wide in the 20th minute.
But after Barr had gone close with a diving header on the half-hour, the Birmingham player set up the second goal with a 34th minute cross which Handley volleyed home.
Mexico should have reduced the arrears eight minutes before the interval, but after clever work by Juana Evelyn Lopez her strike partner Teresa Guadalupe Worbiz shot wastefully over the bar.
The game was ended as a contest eight minutes into the second half, when Yankey produced a cool finish from Handley’s pass to record her third goal of the tournament.
Wolves midfielder Emily Westwood wasted a chance to increase the lead on the hour, but in the 68th minute a cross by substitute Eni Aluko was dropped by goalkeeper Jennifer Molina and Williams pounced for her second goal.
Another good delivery by Aluko might have seen Yankey score again, but from 15 yards the winger sent her shot against the crossbar.
The final goal of the game arrived 11 minutes from time, when substitutes Sue Smith and Vicky Exley exchanged passes for Smith to sweep the ball home from 12 yards.
After cruising through the group stage England are set for a much tougher contest when they meet China - who at fourth in the FIFA world rankings are 10 places higher than Powell’s team - in the 7th/8th place match on Tuesday.
The National Coach is, however, pleased that her side will be given a stern test as they continue their build-up to June’s 2005 UEFA Women’s Championship Finals.
"We’ve made good progress over the last couple of years," noted Powell, "but this will be an opportunity to see how far we’ve come and what we need to do to carry on progressing.
"After six wins in a row the confidence is high in the squad and I think it’s a good time to be meeting a side like China."
Final Score: England 5-0 Mexico
Williams 2, 68
England (4-4-1-1): Fletcher (Birmingham City); Scott (Birmingham City) (sub Johnson (Everton) 69), White (Arsenal) (sub Stoney (Charlton Athletic) HT), Phillip (Arsenal), Unitt (Everton); Handley (Everton), Williams (Everton), Chapman (Charlton Athletic) (sub McArthur (Bristol City 75), Yankey (Birmingham City) (sub Smith (Leeds United) 75); Westwood (Wolves) (sub Exley (Doncaster Rovers Belles) 63); Barr (Birmingham City) (sub Aluko (Charlton Athletic) 63).
Mexico (3-5-2): Molina; Sandoval, Gomez, Gonzales; Romero (Saucedo 63), Vergara (Juarez 51), Leyva (Mendoza 77), Castillo, Perez (Gordillo 81); Lopez (Nieva 69), Worbiz.