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England began their defence of the Cyprus Cup with a narrow 1-0 victory over South Africa in Larnaca.
The goal came in just the fifth minute as Jill Scott nudged home from close range after South Africa failed to deal with a Jody Handley cross.
Going behind appeared to galvanise the South Africans and they took the game to England, forcing a number of ultimately harmless corners.
England gradually grew into the game but two stubborn defences prevented the creation of many other chances of note in an uninspiring first half and the opening ten minutes of the second followed a similar pattern with neither side able to breach the opposition's backline.
However, England almost doubled their lead on 55 minutes. A short corner from the right allowed Sue Smith to cross deep but her left footed centre hit the far post and bounced away from goal.
Then, a mazy run down the left from Jess Clarke allowed her to beat two South African defenders and a driven cross provided Smith with another opportunity to double the advantage, this time in spectacular fashion. The goalkeeper was beaten but the ball just zipped beyond the post. Minutes later, the same pair combined again, only for Smith to fire wide from just outside the six yard box. On 77 minutes, England produced a flowing passing move which ended with Emily Westwood firing narrowly wide.
The final ten minutes were relatively scrappy and although England had more possession, South Africa pressed the Three Lions all over the pitch, bringing to a close a very disjointed match. Next up for England is Canada on Friday.
England: Rachel Brown (sub Siobhan Chamberlain 45mins), Dunia Susi, Casey Stoney, Danielle Buet (sub Laura Bassett 58mins), Faye White (sub Rachel Unitt 67mins), Lindsay Johnson, Jess Clarke (sub Rachel Yankey 76mins), Jill Scott, Emily Westwood, Jody Handley, Sue Smith.
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