England Women net friendly win against United States

By Tony Leighton Women's football correspondent
Rachel Yankey
Yankey scored England's second goal at Brisbane Road

England gave themselves a tremendous pre-Women's World Cup boost with a 2-1 victory against the USA, the world's top-ranked team, at Leyton Orient.

Jess Clarke and Rachel Yankey hit the goals as Hope Powell's team beat the Americans for the first time in nine attempts since a 2-0 win in 1988.

Megan Rapinoe reduced the arrears and the visitors had the better of the second half, but England stood firm to achieve a famous and timely victory just a couple of months ahead of the World Cup finals in Germany.

National Coach Powell said: "That was a very professional performance and a big victory for us.

"We've beaten the number one team in the world, showed we can compete with the very best and set a benchmark for ourselves.

"But we musn't get carried away - there were lots of positives, but there's also lots we need to work on ahead of the World Cup.

"A performance like that bodes well for the future though, and it's a big confidence boost at a great time for the girls in our build-up to the World finals."

England started brightly and took the lead after just eight minutes, Clarke pouncing on a loose ball to drive home a low 10-yard shot.

Yankey doubled the home side's advantage with a 26th-minute cross-shot into the far corner of the net after striker Kelly Smith had set up the chance.

Midfielder Fara Williams and Smith both then went close to scoring with long-range efforts that narrowly missed the target.

But six minutes before half-time, the Americans were allowed back into the game, the England defence retreating, as left-winger Rapinoe advanced from the half-way line to fire a 20-yard shot past the dive of goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

Buoyed by their goal, the visitors had more of the play in the second half and should have equalised when right-winger Heather O'Reilly, in behind the defence in the 71st minute, shot wide from 15 yards.

Bardsley then had to save from substitute Alex Morgan, who went close again with an 80th-minute, 18-yard shot that went just wide.

England (4-2-3-1): Bardsley (New Jersey Sky Blue); A. Scott (Boston Breakers), F. White (Arsenal) (Bradley (Lincoln) 68), Stoney (Lincoln), Unitt (Everton); J. Scott (Everton), F. Williams (Everton); Clarke (Lincoln), K. Smith (Boston Breakers), Yankey (Arsenal) (Carney (Birmingham City) 75); E. White (Arsenal).

USA (4-4-2): Barnhart (Solo 46); Krieger, Rampone, Buehler, Lepeilbet (Cox 46); O'Reilly, Lloyd, Boxx, Rapinoe (Heath 70); Wambach (Cheney 62), Rodriguez (Morgan 70).

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