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England eased to a 3-0 win over Finland in their second Cyprus Cup group match.
Mark Sampson’s much-changed side took the momentum from their opening day victory over Italy and blew the Finns away with an assured display full of attacking intent.
Anita Asante put the Three Lions ahead on the half-hour mark, Gemma Bonner headed a second on 67 minutes and Eniola Aluko wrapped up proceedings with a third moments later.
Finland 0-3 England
The Cyprus Cup
12.30pm, Friday 7 March
Keen to give minutes to as many of his squad as possible, Sampson changed his entire starting XI from Wednesday.
Everton defender Alex Greenwood was handed her full debut, following a ten-minute cameo against the Italians, while goalkeeper Lizzie Durack was involved in a senior match day squad for the very first time and Gemma Davison made her first start, almost five years after making her bow as a substitute against Iceland.
Just as they did against Italy, England enjoyed more possession and territory in a scrappy opening period, with attacking quartet Jill Scott, Natasha Dowie, Davison and Aluko showing plenty of confidence in and around the box, while just lacking a killer final ball.
The first three decent opportunities all fell to Jill Scott, but the Manchester City midfielder hit each shot over the top of Minna Meriluoto’s goal.
Aluko then tried her luck from 15 yards out as the Three Lions gradually began to take full control of proceedings, and they eventually took a deserved lead on 30 minutes.
Greenwood delivered an in-swinging free-kick from the left, Liverpool captain Bonner flicked the ball onto the back post and Asante cushioned a volley beyond Meriluoto. It was only the Malmo midfielder’s second international goal, on her 68th appearance.
England left-back Greenwood was showing no sign of nerves on her first senior start and almost marked her special day with a spectacular goal, but her left-foot drive from 25 yards crashed back off the crossbar.
Things might have got even better before half time when Davison drove a shot goalwards from just inside the area, only for the overworked Meriluoto to palm the ball to safety.
The Liverpool winger almost turned provider shortly after the restart as she slipped a through ball into Birmingham City’s Jade Moore, and the right-back’s near post effort brought the best out of Finland’s No1.
Though they tried to press the England backline, Andree Segiertz’s side had been outplayed and offered little in the attacking third. However, Finnish right-back Susanna Lehtinen sent a rare cross into the box which Sanna Talonen headed back across goal and only Telford’s left-hand upright prevented the equaliser.
That miss was to prove costly as England hit them with two quick-fire sucker punches.
After Dowie and Jill Scott again peppered their opponent’s goal, Greenwood capped an assured performance by delivering a delightful free-kick, this time from the right, which Bonner stooped low to head home her maiden England goal.
And the result was put beyond doubt five minutes later as Aluko dinked a close-range shot past Meriluoto following some great build-up play and a through ball by substitute Karen Carney.
Sampson shuffled his pack late on to see the game out. Established right-back Alex Scott came on for Asante which allowed Moore to move into a more familiar central midfield role.
There was also a moment to savour for young University of Harvard goalkeeper Durack, who came on with six minutes remaining for her senior team debut.
Carney came close to adding a fourth in added time, but Meriluoto produced one final save to keep the scoreline fairly respectable from a Finnish perspective.
England, current holders of the Cyprus Cup, now head into Monday’s last Group A match against Canada eyeing a place in next Wednesday’s final.
Finland: 1 Minna Meriluoto, 4 Susanna Lehtinen, 5 Katarina Naumanen, 7 Annika Kukkonen (C), 8 Katri Nokso-Koivisto, 10 Emmi Alanen, 11 Nora Heroum, 14 Sanna Talonen, 15 Juliette Kemppi, 16 Anna Westerlund, 19 Adelina Engman.
Substitutes: 22 Jenna Korhonen for Naumanen, 63, 17 Sanna Saarinen for Heroum, 63, 21 Ella Vanhanen for Engman, 76, 18 Sanna Ylianttila for Talonen, 76
Substitutes not used: 3 Tuija Hyyrynen, 6 Laura Kivisto, 12 Vera Varis, 13 Heidi Kivela, 20 Linda Ruutu, 23 Tinja-Riikka Korpela.
Booked: Lehtinen, Heroum
England: (4-2-3-1): 13 Carly Telford (Notts County); 12 Jade Moore (Birmingham City), 16 Sophie Bradley (Notts County), 15 Gemma Bonner (Liverpool), 23 Alex Greenwood (Everton); 4 Anita Asante (Malmo), 14 Laura Bassett (Chelsea) (C); 17 Gemma Davison (Liverpool), 18 Jill Scott (Manchester City), (Liverpool), 22 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea); 19 Natasha Dowie (Liverpool).
Substitutes: 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal) for Asante, 62, 11 Toni Duggan (Manchester City) for Davison, 70, 7 Karen Carney (Birmingham City) for Jill Scott, 70, 20 Ellen White (Notts County) for Aluko, 76, 21 Lizzie Durack (University of Harvard) for Telford, 84.
Substitutes not used: 1 Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal), 3 Demi Stokes (University of Florida).
Goals: Asante, 30, Bonner, 67, Aluko, 72.
Read more at http://www.thefa.com/news/england/womens/2014/mar/cyprus-cup-finland-larnaca-report#RHstRtRlTkb9l1gW.99
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