Neville’s Lionesses kicked off their title defence this morning, taking on the U.S. in their opening game of the 2020 SheBelieves Cup.
An interesting team selection saw in-form Beth England start the game on the sidelines, while Lauren Hemp got her first start in an England shirt.
For the USA, a side with very few changes to what we’re used to seeing under Vlatko, but rather most notably centre-midfielder Julie Ertz starting to earn her 100th cap for country.
Two quick-fire goals from Vlatko’s side sunk England just after the half, with Christen Press and Carli Lloyd getting on the scoresheet.
Lacklustre opening 45
The most interesting thing to come out of the opening 45 minutes was the battle for dominance down the right-hand side where Lauren Hemp took on Kelley O’Hara, often getting the better of the established U.S. right-back.
One of the best chances of the first half fell to Lindsey Horan of the USA who found herself one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Telford’s strong star saw her quick off the line to save at point-blank range to deny was should’ve been a certain goal.
Alyssa Naeher was called into action on a number of occasions in the U.S. goal, saving particularly well from Nikita Parris who latched onto the end of a glorious cross-field ball from Keira Walsh. Despite the great movement, it was ultimately pulled back for offside.
England’s second-half capitulation
Promising signs in the first half set up a highly anticipated second-half with either side showing signs of scoring.
It was England who started the stronger of the two sides, both Hemp and Parris flying forward to pile the pressure on the U.S. backline.
Which made it all the more surprising when Vlatko’s side went ahead against the run of play.
Christen Press was given far too much space on the edge of the area with no defenders stepping to her, leaving her free to curl an outrageous shot beyond a helpless Telford in goal.
And things only went from bad to worse for England as a quick-fire double seemed to put the U.S. out of sight.
This time it was Carli Lloyd who got her name on the scoresheet, a lovely dink ball over the top from Lindsey Horan left the English defence ball watching as Lloyd made no mistake from close range.
After the second goal, it felt like an impossible job for England to claw their way back – even more so when Bethany England was not introduced until late on in the tie.
USA finished the stronger side, their renowned physicality prevailing and seeing off England comfortably.
England’s next game is against Japan on Sunday. Kick-off 6:15 pm.