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ENGLAND 2 NORWAY 1
A well deserved victory over the World Cup semi finalists ended England's two-match trip to Cyprus on a high note as Hope Powell's team continued the build-up to the resumption of their Euro 2009 qualifying campaign in fine style.
Two days after matching Sweden in all but the goalscoring department, the Swedes running out 2-0 winners, England found their scoring touch to overcome the Norwegians through a Fara Williams header and a Kelly Smith penalty.
Victory could have been by a wider margin but for some off target finishing and good saves by Norway goalkeeper Christine Nilsen, but National Coach Powell was more than satisfied with her team's performance and result.
Powell had made just one change to her team's starting line up, Lianne Sanderson coming in to lead the attack with Kelly Smith stepping back into her usual role just behind the front line and midfielder Jill Scott dropping to the substitutes' bench.
Smith had the first goalscoring opportunity of the match, but as she met right winger Karen Carney's cleverly flighted fourth minute free-kick at the far post the striker miscued her volley well wide. England continued probing, but some neat approach play failed to produce any further early chances and it was at the other end where Siobhan Chamberlain had to make the game's first save, a diving stop from Solveig Gulbrandsen's 23rd minute 15-yard shot.
Seven minutes later England should have taken the lead but, after an excellent link up between right back Alex Scott and Sanderson, Carney missed a headed opportunity from just two yards out as Scott's cross landed at the far post.
England got well on top towards the interval and after Scott's 20-yard effort had been saved by keeper Nilsen in the 43rd minute, another great chance went begging as play moved into first half stoppage time. A sweeping move led to Smith taking possession on the right hand side of the penalty area, from where she arrowed a pass to the feet of Sanderson four yards from goal, only for the striker to shoot straight at Nilsen.
The goal England's play had warranted arrived two minutes after the break and it came from another fine move, this one started by midfielder Anita Asante's tremendous crossfield pass to the overlapping Scott. The full back found left winger Rachel Yankey, who had swapped flanks with Carney, and from Yankey's looping cross Williams rose to send a downward header just inside the near post.
Smith put a 20-yard shot over the bar as England looked to increase their lead, but against the run of play Norway got a 53rd minute equaliser when midfielder Ingvild Stensland's 30-yard lob caught Chamberlain off her line and the ball dropped under the bar.
The Norwegians almost went ahead four minutes later, central defender Runa Vikestad beating Chamberlain with a close range shot at the near post but captain Faye White blocking the ball on the line.
England regained the lead in the 64th minute, Smith scoring from the penalty spot after Carney had been tripped by Nilsen. The keeper had denied Carney a clear goalscoring opportunity but was not even cautioned, let alone sent off, by a referee who had earlier booked Carney and was later to yellow card Yankey - both for dissent. The Norwegians were thankful for Nilsen's reprieve as first she touched Yankey's 25-yard drive onto the bar in the 74th minute then, two minutes later, spectacularly tipped over the top a 20-yard rocket from Smith.
By this time a change in the England goal had seen substitute Kay Hawke take over from Chamberlain, the Lincoln City keeper's 73rd minute introduction giving her an England debut that eased her on to the international stage with no scares whatsoever.
It was job done at the end of an encouraging 90 minutes for England.
England: Siobhan Chamberlain (sub Kay Hawke 73mins), Alex Scott, Casey Stoney, Anita Asante, Faye White, Mary Phillip, Karen Carney, Fara Williams, Lianne Sanderson (sub Eniola Aluko 73mins), Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey. Subs not used: Jill Scott, Laura Bassett, Lindsay Johnson, Rachel Unitt, Emily Westwood, Jody Handley, Sue Smith.
(Report by Tony Leighton for www.TheFA.com)
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