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Football - 02. April 2010.

England v. Spain Qualifier Match

By David Brenchley at The Den.


England scraped past Spain by a solitary goal to keep up their perfect record in the World Cup qualifying Group Five.


A Katie Chapman strike after half an hour was enough to defeat the group's leaders and put England onto level points with a game in hand at the midway point of the campaign.


The decisive goal came after good work by Leeds Carnegie winger Jess Clarke who teed up Chapman to fire home from 15 yards.


Hope Powell made three changes from the side that beat Austria 3-0 at Loftus Road; Kelly Smith, Jess Clarke and Rachel Brown came in for Lianne Sanderson, Dunia Susi and Karen Bardsley.


The hosts had the best of the early exchanges as the returning Smith and Clarke looked lively; Smith's first time effort that curled just wide of the mark was the first real chance.


Adriana Martin had the visitors' best chance after they broke away but her shot was well blocked by Faye White


Otherwise, both sides struggled to get a foothold in the first half hour and could not penetrate the defences often enough.


England could count themselves fortunate not to have conceded a penalty after Martin was played through.


Martin managed to get to the ball just before the onrushing England goalkeeper Rachel Brown and chipped the ball over the Everton stopper.


With her momentum, Brown then clattered into Spain's top goalscorer before White cleared the ball to safety and the Norwegian referee gave the home side the benefit of the doubt.


After a slight stoppage in play while Martin was treated, Chapman was on hand to put England in the lead and ensure her side went into the break a goal to the good.


The second half was much more uneventful, a Rachel Yankey effort Ainhoa Tirapu pushed wide was the best England could muster before Ellen White was prevented a run on goal by an excellent Ana Maria Olabarrieta challenge.


Spain rarely troubled Brown in the England goal but the home support had their hearts in their mouths towards the end of the game as the Spaniards pressed for an equaliser.


First Veronica Boquete's cross triggered a goalmouth scramble which Alex Scott managed to head away under immense pressure from Martin before the forward went close with a 30 yard free kick which flew inches past the wrong side of the post.


England held on for the win and coach Powell was left to reflect on a game of two halves, saying: “I thought we played well in the first half although it would have been nice to have scored some of the chances we created.


“In the second half they were the better side, technically very efficient as we knew they would be and really pressed us to try and get the equaliser, thank god the final whistle went,” she added.


Goalscorer Chapman said: “It was nice to score a goal, it's not that often I do score and to do it at at Millwall is really special.”


She added: “We were resilient in the second half and got that result. The three points is the main thing. We played as a team and worked hard, not only for ourselves but for each other.”


England: Rachel Brown; Alex Scott, Rachel Unitt, Faye White, Casey Stoney; Jess Clarke, Rachel Yankey (Sue Smith 83), Katie Chapman, Fara Williams; Eniola Aluko (Ellen White 69), Kelly Smith (Jill Scott 59). Subs (not used): Karen Bardsley, Dunia Susi, Laura Bassett, Lianne Sanderson.


Spain: Ainhoa Tirapu; Marta Torrejon, Sonia Vesga, Ruth Garcia, Ana Maria Escribano; Veronica Boquete, Elisabet Ibarra (Ana Maria Romero 73), Sonia Bermudez (Ma Jose Perez 66), Sandra Vilanova (Silvia Meseguer 79), Amaia Olabarrieta; Adriana Martin. Subs (not used): Maria Jose Pons, Melisa Nicolau, Alejandra Lopez, Erika Vazguez

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