By Richard Morgan
Football journalist – @Richiereds1976
Last Updated: 08/10/19 9:45pm
England Women recorded a first win in six matches as they overcame Portugal 1-0 in Setubal thanks to Beth Mead’s second-half strike.
The Lionesses entered the match at the Estadio do Bonfim in urgent need of a victory to ease the pressure on under-fire manager Phil Neville, who had not seen his side win since they beat Norway in the World Cup quarter-finals in June.
However, despite dominating large parts of the clash in Setubal, they had to wait until 18 minutes from time to make the breakthrough, and even then their winner was the result of a dreadful mistake from Portugal No 1 Patricia Morais.
The visitors held on, though, despite Portugal coming desperately close to a last-minute equaliser when Claudia Neto’s free-kick hit the bar, much to Neville’s huge relief.
How Mead got Lionesses back to winning ways
England arrived in Portugal on the back of four defeats and a draw in their five previous matches – the last time they went five games without a win was in 2013, when Hope Powell got the sack.
So all eyes were on the visitors, and the under-pressure Neville in particular, with the manager responding to Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Brazil by making four changes.
In came Ellie Roebuck in goal, Rachel Daly, Lucy Staniforth and Beth England, their goalscorer at the Riverside, not that the changes had much impact in a disjointed and error-strewn first half.
The closest either team came to scoring came in in first-half stoppage time, only for Monica Mendes’ goal-line clearance to prevent Nikita Parris from tapping in from close range.
But the Lionesses moved up a gear in the second period, especially after the introductions of Jordan Nobbs and Jodie Taylor, who both almost scored within seconds of coming on midway through the second half.
When England did finally get the goal their pressure merited, it owed much to an awful handling error from Morais. The goalkeeper somehow failed to gather Alex Greenwood’s harmless cross from the left, inexplicably dropping the ball straight at Mead’s feet, leaving the Arsenal forward with surely the easiest goal of her entire career.
England still had to survive one late scare, however, when Neto’s injury-time free-kick from the edge of the area looped over the wall and on to the bar, only to somehow stay out of the net, despite hitting the unaware Ellie Roebuck on the back.
Phil Neville’s side take on Germany in a friendly international at Wembley on Saturday November 9, with the game kicking off at 5.30pm.
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Source : Sky Sports