- SheBelieves Cup
- Thursday 8 March
- Orlando City Stadium
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A Karen Bardsley own goal handed USA the SheBelieves Cup at England’s expense.
After a resounding 4-1 win over France and a 2-2 draw with Olympic champions Germany, England went into this final match needing just a point to win the tournament for the first time.
But the unlucky Bardsley was caught out by two deflections in quick succession as Megan Rapinoe’s cross ended up in the back of the net to give USA the win they needed to usurp the Lionesses at the top of the table.
England finished as runners-up on four points, their best return in the competition’s short history.
Head coach Phil Neville kept faith with the back four that started against Germany while Ellen White also retained her place following her two-goal salvo at the weekend.
Jodie Taylor was reinstated as the focal point up top with Manchester City duo Keira Walsh and Isobel Christiansen trusted in midfield.
The world champions, with their plethora of star names, began brightly and enjoyed more possession in the opening exchanges, though they were unable to trouble Bardsley in the Lionesses goal; Rapinoe’s off-target 25th-minute strike was USA’s first real effort of note.
England had looked fairly comfortable in the first half until the hosts increased as the break approached.
Lindsey Horan headed wide, Bardsley was forced to push away a low, left-sided cross and teenager Mallory Pugh ran across the Lionesses’ box before unleashing a decent shot which flew narrowly wide of the right-hand upright.
Pugh was at it again just moments after the restart, racing onto a long ball forward before forcing Bardsley into a good save low at her near post.
England’s keeper excelled herself for a third time when she directed Rapinoe’s angled shot behind for a corner.
A USA goal had looked increasingly likely – and it arrived just before the hour mark.
The excellent Rapinoe found herself in space down the left and her whipped centre brushed off Abbie McManus before her centre back partner Bright inadvertently prodded the ball beyond Bardsley, who did manage to get a touch, from close range.
Neville summoned attacking trio Toni Duggan, Nikita Parris and Rachel Daly from the bench in an attempt to salvage the necessary point – and it almost came with just three minutes remaining.
White, who scored the late, late winner against USA last year, climbed highest to meet Christiansen’s in-swinging free-kick but her header hit the post and the ball was cleared off the line.
There was a special moment for Hannah Blundell, who replaced Demi Stokes for her senior team debut, but England were unable to find a way past the No1-ranked side in the world.
The Lionesses will resume their hitherto flawless World Cup qualifying with a match against Wales in Southampton on Friday 6 April.
Tickets are already on sale, priced £1 for children and £10 for adults.
Tickets can be purchased at TheFA.com/Tickets or by calling 02381 780 780.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 2 Lucy Bronze (capt; Lyon), 6 Millie Bright (Chelsea), 15 Abbie McManus (Manchester City), 3 Demi Stokes (Manchester City); 22 Keira Walsh (Manchester City), 16 Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City); Melissa Lawley (Manchester City), 10 Fran Kirby (Chelsea), 18 Ellen White (Birmingham City); 9 Jodie Taylor (Melbourne City).
Substitutes: 7 Nikita Parris (Manchester City) for Taylor 52, 11 Toni Duggan (Barcelona) for Lawley 52, 17 Rachel Daly (Houston Dash) for Kirby 75, 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City) for Walsh 87, 12 Hannah Blundell (Chelsea) for Stokes 87.
Substitutes not used: 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), 4 Fara Williams (Reading), 14 Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), 20 Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), 21 Carly Telford (Chelsea), 23 Gabrielle George (Everton).
Head coach: Phil Neville