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Sluggish England make winning start

England 1 (Stanway pen 29)

Haiti 0

at Brisbane Stadium

A win is a win, but England laboured to an opening 1-0 victory over Haiti in their opening World Cup group match in Brisbane, courtesy of a twice-taken penalty from Georgia Stanway.

However it took two excellent saves by Mary Earps to put the seal on the win as the England defence were worryingly troubled by speedy Haitian counter attacks throughout the match and struggled to cope with talented 19-year-old Melchie Dumornay.

The first opportunity of the game fell England’s way as Lucy Bronze headed wide from a Chloe Kelly cross following a corner, with Kelly then shooting straight at Kerly Theus in the Haiti goal.

There was a sign of things to come though as Dumornay slipped a pass into the path of Roselord Borgella who shot wide when well placed. Back came England and a seemingly endless VAR check for a possible penalty was turned down after Alessia Russo was adjudged to have fouled beforehand.

Shortly afterwards, another VAR review this time led to England being awarded a penalty as Batcheba Louis had inexplicably handled the ball above her head with Bronze lurking behind her after another corner. Stanway stepped up but saw her kick kept out by an excellent save from Theus, however the keeper had stepped off her line in making the stop and a retake was ordered. This time, Stanway kept her cool and sent Theus the wrong way for the opening goal.

England were unable to go on from this point though, although they did produce an opportunity as Alex Greenwood found Russo in the area, where her angled shot was saved at the near post by Theus. Haiti were looking very sharp on the attack and passed up a good chance when Borgella sent a free header over the bar from ten yards.

The pattern of the game continued after the interval with England having more possession but struggling to break their opponents down, whilst Haiti remained happy to sit back and hit on the break at pace. Dumornay was a constant threat when on the ball and a strong run down the left ended with her cutting inside on the edge of the area and unleashing a powerful strike which Earps did well to turn away.

Theus was also impressive at the other end with some excellent handling and she produced a good save to push away a low strike from Russo, whilst Kelly had a shot charged down. Millie Bright then passed up a great opportunity as a corner was half cleared towards her but she volleyed wildly over the bar.

England introduced Rachel Daly as a substitute and moments after coming on, she rose high from a Bronze cross but her header flew straight at Theus. A minute later though, Haiti looked on course for an equaliser as Nerilia Mondesir’s lay off picked out Roseline Eloissaint who was clean through on goal and drilled a low shot which was arrowing towards the far corner but once again Earps came to the rescue, managing to stick out a boot and divert the ball clear.

England continued to struggle at the back and another glorious opportunity for Haiti saw them in a two-on-one situation but the pass to Dumornay went astray and the chance was lost.

After that scare, England were able to recover some composure and successfully closed the game out for the three points. Much improvement will be needed if they are to make serious progress into the later stages, starting with their next group match against Denmark.

England: Mary Earps, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Keira Walsh, Jess Carter, Millie Bright, Chloe Kelly, Georgia Stanway, Alessia Russo (sub Rachel Daly 76mins), Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp (sub Lauren James 61mins). Subs not used: Niamh Charles, Jordan Nobbs, Hannah Hampton, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Esme Morgan, Laura Coombs, Beth England, Katie Zelem, Ellie Roebuck, Katie Robinson.

Haiti: Kerly Theus, Betina Petit-Frere, Jennyfer Limage (sub Ruthny Mathurin 31mins), Tabita Joseph, Kethna Louis, Sherly Jeudy, Dayana Pierre-Louism Batcheba Louis (sub Darlina Joseph 90mins), Melchie Dumornay, Nerilia Mondesir, Roselord Borgella (sub Rosella Eloissaint 78mins. Subs not used: Chelsea Surpris, Maudeline Moryl, Danielle Etienne, Nahomie Ambroise, Esthericove Joseph, Milan Pierre-Jerome, Kiki Joseph, Noa Ganthier, Lara Larco.

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