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Women's Football News
England 2 (Clarke 7, Yankey 26) United States 1 (Rapinoe 39)
England defeated the United States for the first time in 22 years as goals from Jess Clarke and Rachel Yankey gave them a 2-1 victory in their friendly international at the Matchroom Stadium.
A storming start put England two goals ahead before the world ranked number one team pulled one back before the interval and a solid England rearguard held out under second half pressure to record a famous victory.
England came out flying from the kick off and carried the game to their opponents, almost carving out a chance in the opening minute but Nicole Barnhart was quick off her line to deny Kelly Smith.
A Yankey corner then led to the first clear opportunity as it found an unmarked Clarke in front of goal, however her extravagant flick went over the bar.
Two minutes later, Rachel Unitt's pass was flicked on by Jill Scott and released Clarke on the left. Her cross saw Ellen White challenge Rachel Buehler and the ball ran loose for Clarke to drive her shot past Barnhart and give England the lead.
England continued to dominate the game and almost went two ahead as a 25-yard free kick from Fara Williams beat Barnhart but struck the bar.
The second goal was not far in coming though. Kelly Smith picked up possession in her own half and carried the ball to the edge of the area before feeding Yankey who took one touch before drilling a sweet left foot shot into the far top corner.
Williams went close with another long range free kick, firing her shot just over the bar whilst Smith, who was in imperious form, was also narrowly off target with a shot from the edge of the area.
The USA had barely threatened as an attacking force but six minutes before half time, they were back in the game with virtually their first shot on goal. Megan Rapinoe picked up possession on the halfway line and drove at goal, the England defence backed off and this allowed Rapinoe to unleash a 20-yard shot beyond the diving Karen Bardsley and into the right hand corner of the net.
At half time, the USA made a double substitution and looked far more dangerous as they sought an equaliser, Amy Rodridguez bringing out a save from Bardsley within two minutes of the restart.
England were having to work hard to keep their opponents away from goal but kept their defensive discipline. It wasn't until midway through the half that the next threat on goal came, a Rapinoe corner was half cleared and, after Bardsley had parried Lauren Cheney's shot, Ali Krieger put the rebound over the bar from six yards.
England were forced into making a change as captain Faye White left the field through injury and she was replaced by Sophie Bradley, who was making her first home appearance.
There was a scare for England three minutes later as Unitt badly underhit a back pass and Heather O'Reilly stole in but she guided her shot past the post to give the full back a reprieve.
Carli Lloyd then won possession from Unitt, who received a knock in the challenge, and made her way into the area where her shot was not held by Bardsley, who did well to stand up and block the rebound from Krieger.
There was a welcome return to international action for Karen Carney, who came on as a replacement for Yankey, but the winger saw more action in her own half as the USA continued to press for an equaliser. Lloyd played a great crossfield pass to pick out Alex Morgan who had got beyond Alex Scott but the substitute shot wastefully off target.
Morgan again failed to hit the target from the edge of the area as England were forced to hold on in the dying minutes. As the game entered injury time, a quickly taken corner almost caught England out with Lloyd cutting in and shooting but Unitt did well to get her head in the way of the goalbound shot. Bardsley confidently claimed the resulting corner and moments later, England were celebrating one of their best ever victories.
England: Karen Bardsley, Alex Scott, Rachel Unitt, Fara Williams, Faye White (sub Sophie Bradley 67mins), Casey Stoney, Jess Clarke, Jill Scott, Ellen White, Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey (sub Karen Carney 74mins). Subs not used: Laura Bassett, Lindsay Johnson, Dunia Susi, Eniola Aluko, Steph Houghton, Anita Asante, Siobhan Chamberlain, Sue Smith, Claire Rafferty, Rachel Brown, Natasha Dowie.
United States: Nicole Barnhart (sub Hope Solo 45mins), Christie Rampone, Amy LePeilbet (sub Stephanie Cox 45mins), Shannon Boxx, Amy Rodriguez (sub Alex Morgan 69mins), Heather O'Reilly, Carli Lloyd, Ali Krieger, Megan Rapinoe (sub Tobin Heath 69mins), Rachel Buelher, Abby Wambach (sub Lauren Cheney 61mins). Subs not used: Yael Averbuch, Lindsay Tarpley, Kelley O'Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Ashlyn Harris, Meghan Klingenberg.
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