Women's sports: Lionesses secure first win in six following scrappy affair with Portugal

Portugal Women v England Women - International Friendly

Phil Neville’s England have secured their first win in six games after beating Portugal by one goal this evening.

Pressure has been mounting on Neville’s international career following Saturday’s loss against Brazil in a packed-out Riverside Stadium. 

The last time England went without a win in five games, Hope Powell was relieved of her position as manager.

Dull first-half
The first half was a somewhat muted performance from England as they struggled to create many chances.

As well as struggling to put away chances going forward, they looked vulnerable at the back with sloppy play putting their defence under pressure.

Arguably their best chance came when the ball fell to Beth England in the box who then took on the shot from a tight angle which was eventually cleared off the line.

Beth Mead also comes close with a curling effort that fell just wide of the Portugal goal.

An improved second half
Though not entirely different from the first half, England was much more persistent going forward in the second 45.

Their best chance came just before the breakthrough when Walsh played a deep and well-weighted ball through to Taylor, but the keeper comes out quickly and is equal to it. With the ball bouncing around the area, it was bodies on the line for Portugal as they attempted and were successful in keeping out England at that time.

Just five minutes later the first goal came as Greenwood’s weak cross slipped through the hands of Morais and landed at the feet of Mead. The latter made no mistake in lashing the ball home to give the Lionesses the lead.

Despite the scrappiness of the tie, 19-year-old Lauren Hemp was handed her senior debut in the final stages of the game. The City youngster influenced the game massively and offered a new dynamic to England’s attack, perhaps the most threatening they looked going forward all evening.

A huge let-off for England in the final moments as Neto’s free-kick hits the bar and bounces off the back of Roebuck – but the keeper grabs the ball before it can go in. 

Portugal Women v England Women - International Friendly

England’s fortune following a goalkeeper howler means they win their first in six – but questions remain regarding Neville and his ability to lead this team forward.

Only time will tell, and it doesn’t get much easier for the Lionesses as next up for them is a tough challenge against Germany in November.

What is clear, however, is that vast improvements are required from Neville and this side.

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