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England Under-23 slipped to a 1-0 defeat by Germany in their opening match of the Four Nation Tournament in La Manga.
The decisive goal came in the 18th minute, with England momentarily down to ten players, however they could have found themselves two goals to the good by this stage had they been able to convert some of the early chances they created.
The goal allowed the Germans to grow into the game and gradually puncture England's early zest and they struck the bar ahead of the half time break.
England improved in the second half and enjoyed more possession but were unable to break down the German defence. The last twenty minutes saw Steph Houghton make her return to international football following a serious knee ligament injury sustained last March.
England coach Brent Hills told TheFA.com after the game: "It was a really competitive game that could have gone either way. It was one of those games, two very evenly matched sides and there was always going to be one goal in it.
"I have seen the other two nations play and they are really competitive sides, but we're looking forward to (playing) Norway on Wednesday, which will be a different challenge."
England under-23: Ashley Baker, Chelsea Weston (sub Steph Houghton 70mins), Ellie Gilliatt (sub Sarah Kempson 21mins), Remi Allen (sub Natasha Dowie 70mins), Fern Whelan, Sophie Bradley, Jade Moore, Michelle Hinnigan, Ellen White, Rachel Williams (sub Brooke Chaplen 45mins), Dannii Bird. Subs not used: Carly Telford, Kerys Harrop, Claire Rafferty.
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