Lionesses take positives from a flat friendly

England returned to action for the first time since losing to Australia in April, in the lead-up to the World Cup. Their campaign starts on the 22nd of July, when they’ll face Haiti in Brisbane.

Sarina Wiegman opted to try an experimental side, with Rachel Daly starting up front instead of Alessia Russo, and Lauren James coming in for Chloe Kelly. The Lionesses are still without captain Millie Bright and midfielder Jordan Nobbs through injury, but thankfully the pair still have tickets on the plane.

ENG: Earps; Carter, Greenwood, Morgan, Bronze; Walsh, Stanway, Toone; Hemp, Daly, James

POR: Pereira; Amado, C. Costa, D. Gomes, Borges; Dolores Silva, Norton, Nazareth, Pinto; Diana Silva, J. Silva

The first half was… something. It was an incredibly positive start for England.

Rachel Daly proved how important she will be for the Lionesses – she beamed with confidence, in her hopes of retaining a starting spot up front. She consistently got herself into useful positions – even trying a bicycle kick, but faced the bench at the interval. Lauren James forced the Portugal defence to make mistakes, as they struggled to track her runs in her ploy to continuously exploit space.

However, the positive start went flat – there was not much to rile up the travelling fans, as it seemed like this was the first time the England squad had played with each other. Passes were misplaced, runs ill-timed and chances given to Portugal to get ahead.

Surprisingly, the Selecção das Quinas made it tough for England to play centrally and kept them out wide. However, Mary Earps and the back four played reliably, ensuring that this friendly did not spiral.

The second half did not entertain much either. The post was hit many times and Earps came close to letting a goal in her own net. A back-pass from Lauren Hemp travelled too fast, confusing the keeper before luckily going wide.

I don’t think this friendly was intended to exert England’s well-known dominance – there has been a long break in competitive play, and hopefully, the performance this afternoon will be what they need to work on their sharpness ahead of the international tournament.

The result today means that the Lionesses go back-to-back games without scoring, and are miles off their 80 goals in 10 World Cup qualifying matches. It’s worth mentioning that they have one more chance to sharpen their tools – a behind-closed-doors friendly with Canada in Australia, before their opening World Cup game.

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FromTheSpot will be bringing you coverage of every game throughout the FIFA Women’s World Cup, including previews and detailed reports. We’ll cover games in the buildup to the tournament too, so you can get a feel for the potential favourites ahead of action getting underway in Australia and New Zealand.

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