England returned to action in the SheBelieves Cup this evening, taking on a dominant Spain side in their final game of the tournament.
A game of two very different halves saw England rue their missed chances as Spain’s second 45 outclassed Neville’s side.
Alexia Putellas came up clutch late on, getting on the end of Jenni Hermoso’s corner to give Spain the three points.
England’s impressive first half
The Lionesses probably had their best half across three games in the opening 45, plenty of which was to do with Leah Williamson in the CDM role while slightly ahead Jordan Nobbs was pulling the strings for England.
One of their best chances of the half came from Jill Scott playing through Ellen White, but the forward got under the ball just a little too much and saw her effort sail over the bar.
Standout performances from Williamson and Nobbs saw them link up on the half an hour mark with a brilliant long-range ball from the former to set through the latter.
Nobbs did particularly well to get herself into a good position, putting the perfect ball into the box but White failed to get on the end of it following pressure from the Spanish defence.
Putellas’ second half
Spain’s first half was arguably one of their worst in the tournament – flat, slow and lacking any real venom – enter Alexia Putellas.
The Barça midfielder was absolutely transformative and, while other subs were made along with hers, she was instrumental in Spain getting back to their best.
The turn of pressure that was now being applied to the English defence saw Houghton and McManus simply unable to cope.
Moraza forced Telford – who had one of her best performances in an England shirt – into a magnificent close-range save after gliding through England’s backline like it wasn’t there.
Bonmatí began to find her feet in the second half after a tough opening 45, partly thanks to the introduction of club teammate Putellas, and her sprayed balls across the pitch saw England struggle yet again at the back.
All of that pressure came to a head, though, late on in the form of a set-piece in true England fashion.
Jenni Hermoso’s whipped corner was met with a venomous header from Putellas who, after pulling the strings in the middle of the park, grabbed the winner in the ultimate smash and grab.
Putellas’ performance was nothing short of magic and could have just piled immeasurable amounts of pressure on Neville and England as they take just one win in this years SheBelieves, and three wins in 11 in total.