By Stuart Mawhinney at the New Stadium. Sunday, 25 November 2007.
UEFA Women's European Championship
Qualifying Round, Group One
6pm, Sunday 25 November 2007
Shrewsbury Town FC
Carney showed a cool head to give England a slim victory, although the margin did not reflect the dominance of the home side as they created numerous chances against a youthful, yet composed, Spanish side.
In a frantic opening to the game Kelly Smith showed fleet of foot to skip past three Spanish players before releasing Karen Carney on the right side of the pitch. Carney's cross just evaded Rachel Yankey, before Jill Scott's attempted shot was cleared away.
Three minutes later Fara Williams stole the ball from Laura Del Rio on the halfway line and instantly played Carney through with a perfectly weighted pass. Carney glided past two defenders but her cross was cut out with Eni Aluko and Kelly Smith waiting with intent in the six yard box.
From the resulting corner both Williams and Jill Scott had opportunities to open the scoring in a goalmouth scramble that saw Ainhoa Tirapu deny England twicewith fine reflex saves, and fortunate deflections ensured that Spain's goal was safe.
Kelly Smith again had the crowd on their feet after 14 minutes when she tore through the heart of the Spanish defence. Picking up an Anita Asante headed clearance, Smith broke from inside her half to beat four players before crossing to Aluko whose touch deserted her.
England were playing some fine attacking football, with smooth one-touch passing leading them into the Spanish third of the pitch quickly and often in the first half, but it was the lack of an incisive final ball that denied them a goal for their efforts.
England did not have it all their own way despite dominating in the first period, as Spain showed they had an attacking impetus as well. Del Rio won the ball from Carney and showed great pace to burst through the centre of the pitch and shoot low and hard at Rachel Brown's goal.
It was more of the same in the second period as England continued to press for the crucial opening goal, with Lianne Sanderson replacing Eni Aluko up front shortly after the interval.
Spain showed composure on the ball and as time moved on the potential that England might drop their first points in qualification group one became more of a reality - until Karen Carney intervened. With chances coming thick and fast, but nothing yet beating Tirapu, it called for a cool head and Carney showed her coolness to grab her sixth goal for her country.
The move involved fine forward play from Sanderson to hold the ball up before finding Kelly Smith in space, Smith then found Alex Scott whose cross fell to Carney and the Arsenal winger guided the ball into the bottom corner.
After making two substitutions Spain almost grabbed an equaliser ten minutes later as Del Rio tricked her way past Alex Scott and Faye White before curling an effort that crashed back off the crossbar.
Spain threatened in the final ten minutes but England held out defiantly to cap a promising 2007 with a crucial victory and three points towards qualification for Euro 2009.Teams:
1 Rachel Brown, 2 Alex Scott, 3 Casey Stoney, 4 Jill Scott, 5 Faye White (c), 6 Anita Asante, 7 Karen Carney, 8 Fara Williams, 9 Eniola Aluko (18 Lianne Sanderson 55), 10 Kelly Smith, 11 Rachel Yankey Subs Not Used:
12 Mary Phillip, 13 Siobhan Chamberlain, 14 Rachel Unitt, 15 Sue Smith, 16 Lindsay Johnson, 17 Jody Handley Spain:
1 Ainhoa Tirapu, 2 Marta Torrejon, 4 Melisa Nicolau, 6 Itziar Gurrutxaga (c) (7 Maria Paz Azagra 75), 8 Laura Del Rio, 10 Vanessa Gimber, 11 Sandra Vilanova, 14 Iraia Iturregi (5 Ruth Garcia 70), 15 Noelia Aybar, 17 Gurutze Fernandez (16 Maria Jose Perez 64), 18 Erika Vazquez Subs Not Used:
3 Marina Torras, 9 Adriana Martin, 12 Maria Paz Vilas, 13 Maria Sanchez Referee:
Claudine Brohet Attendance: