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England 4 (Williams 23, Handley 26, Barr 36, Carney 64)
Italy 1 (Damiana 80)
att: 6,546; at Milton Keynes Dons F.C.
England began their seven-match preparation for this summer's UEFA Championships in style as they swept aside fellow finalists Italy in front of a noisy crowd at the National Hockey Stadium.
England Head Coach Hope Powell gave full debuts to goalkeeper Jo Fletcher and Wolves midfielder Emily Westwood, and Alex Scott continued in the right back spot. Amanda Barr returned up front as a lone striker, and the remainder of the team took on a familiar look.
The first effort on goal came in the second minute, an unmarked Ilaria Pasqui lobbing a shot harmlessly wide of the goal. England began to settle and good work from Jody Handley saw her release Rachel Yankey on the left, the winger beat her marker before sending a dangerous low cross which Amanda Barr sidefooted wide, although the offside flag had been raised anyway.
Otherwise the opening twenty minutes were contained largely in the midfield area until the 24th minute when England went ahead. Yankey's free kick into the area was headed away by the Italian defence as far as Fara Williams, whose 25-yard strike took a deflection off a defender and past Carla Brunozzi to give England the lead.
Three minutes later and the advantage was doubled. Barr cut in and supplied the low cross from the right for Westwood whose shot was not held by Brunozzi and Handley was on hand to tuck the ball into the net.
Goalkeeper Fletcher needed to be alert a minute later as she bravely blocked from Pasqui as the striker looked to prod home Tatiana Zorri's chipped pass but England hit back quickly, Brunozzi needing to palm a Yankey free kick away under pressure from Faye White.
Williams was having a superb match in the centre and the Everton midfielder clipped a delightful pass for Barr to touch the ball past the oncoming Brunozzi and coolly slot into the empty net for England's third. The goal was an undoubted reward for the Birmingham striker who was showing her best form in an England shirt.
Yankey then embarked on a great run, beating three defenders before her cross was headed away in front of goal by Elena Ficarelli and Katie Chapman fired wide. England ended the first half in the ascendancy and left the field to great applause at the interval.
Hope Powell made two substitutions at half time, giving a full debut to Karen Carney and first home appearance for Eniola Aluko. Carney made an immediate contribution, supplying a through ball for Westwood who beat the offside trap and ran through but her shot was saved at the near post by Brunozzi.
Westwood was again unlucky just after the hour mark as Aluko supplied her, the ball broke kindly off a defender for her to run through on goal but she shot straight at Brunozzi. However there was no respite for Italy two minutes later as Aluko sped on to a long ball from Unitt down the left and slid the ball across to Carney who scored at the second attempt.
There was a brief scare for England as Fletcher backpedalled to save a deflected Zorri shot from under her bar but the momentum was still carried by England, Chapman firing over from long range after more good work from Aluko.
Williams was just off target with a 25-yard effort as England still pressed, but it was Italy who were to get the next opportunity from which Patrizia Panico shot wide, from a 25-yard free kick. Two minutes later, Italy did get a consolation from another free kick at a similar range, Deiana Damiana's shot taking a wicked deflection off Westwood and past a wrongfooted Fletcher.
Carney came close to a second with an inswinging free kick which Brunozzi saved under pressure and the Birmingham winger continued to impress with more good touches as England completed a good night' work. The inspiring performance of the new players may give Hope Powell some selection problems - but of the right kind.
England: Jo Fletcher, Alex Scott, Rachel Unitt, Katie Chapman, Faye White, Mary Phillip, Jody Handley, Fara Williams, Amanda Barr, Emily Westwood, Rachel Yankey. Subs used: Eniola Aluko (for Barr 45 mins), Karen Carney (for Handley 45 mins), Sue Smith (for Yankey 63 mins).
Italy: Carla Brunozzi, Deiana Damiana, Tatiana Zorri, Sara Di Filippo, Viviana Schiavi, Elena Ficarelli, Piera Maglio, Elisa Camporese, Patrizia Panico, Valentina Boni, Ilaria Pasqui. Subs used: Melania Gabbiadini (for Maglio 45 mins), Valentina Lanzieri (for Boni 45 mins).
Photo - Katie Chapman breaks away from Patrizia Panico.
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