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England 2 (Kirby 71, Carney 82) Mexico 1 (Ibarra 90)
Two second half goals saw England kick start their World Cup campaign with a crucial win against Mexico in Moncton.
The introduction of Karen Carney as a second half substitute proved to be the difference as she helped to create one goal for Fran Kirby and scored the other with a rare header to boost an England side which was starting to look in danger of limping to a draw at one stage.
Mark Sampson made three changes to the side which had been beaten by France with Kirby, Toni Duggan and Jade Moore all coming in for Alex Scott, Katie Chapman and Ellen White, with Lucy Bronze reverting to right back.
The first attempt of any note came following a Mexico corner, a looping effort from the edge of the area by Veronica Perez which landed on the roof of the net.
Nayeli Rangel and Charlyn Corral both had efforts on goal as Mexico continued their bright start with their pace and trickery making matters uncomfortable for the England defence during the early stages but England began to settle down and show more as an attacking force.
England's best chance so far came as Bronze overlapped down the right for the first time and found Jill Scott in the area, her pass set up an opportunity for Kirby but her shot lacked power and Cecilia Santiago was able to save comfortably.
Toni Duggan tried a snap shot which was saved by Santiago at her near post and Fara Williams was just off target with a long range effort which dipped narrowly over the bar as England continued to grow in confidence whilst in possession. Jade Moore was next to try her luck on goal with a strike from the edge of the area that Santiago saved and Eniola Aluko was unlucky to see her shot clip the top of the bar after cutting in from the left, meaning that the scoreline was goalless going into the interval.
It could have been a disastrous start to the second half for England as a Bardsley clearance hit Laura Bassett and almost dropped kindly for Cuellar but Bardsley was able to retrieve the situation by blocking the resulting shot with her legs.
England introduced Alex Greenwood as a substitute and this gave them an extra threat down the left. A corner could have led to an opening but Steph Houghton's far post header was off target, actually taking the ball off the head of the oncoming Bronze, then Greenwood fed Aluko in the area and her shot on the turn was bundled past the post by Santiago.
Mayor forced a save from Bardsley at the other end and shortly afterwards, England needed to survive their biggest scare as an inswinging corner from Monica Ocampo struck the face of the bar, the ball falling for Nayeli Rangel whose effort was touched over by Bardsley although a goal kick was awarded.
With nineteen minutes left, England finally made the breakthrough they craved. Carney picked up a loose Mexican pass and threaded the ball to the edge of the area where Duggan could not take possession but Kirby took advantage to beat two players before stabbing the ball past Santiago at full stretch and in off the post.
The goal appeared to take a huge weight off the England players' shoulders and things got even better ten minutes later. Following a crisp move which included good work from Kirby and Duggan, Greenwood whipped a cross into the area for Carney to get inside her marker and guide home a header from six yards.
At long last, England could relax...or could they? Despite playing their most confident football for some time, they were forced to endure an uncomfortable last few minutes as Mexico pulled a goal back. Corral's shot from the edge of the area was spilled by Bardsley and Fabiola Ibarra followed up to score from the rebound.
There were no more scares for England though and France's shock defeat to Colombia means that victory against the South Americans in their final game could well see them as group winners - something which had seemed inconceivable a few hours earlier.
England: Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze (sub Alex Scott 85mins), Claire Rafferty (sub Alex Greenwood 53mins), Fara Williams, Steph Houghton, Laura Bassett, Jade Moore, Jill Scott (sub Karen Carney 66mins), Eniola Aluko, Fran Kirby, Toni Duggan.
Mexico: Cecilia Santiago, Kenti Robles, Bianca Sierra (sub Valeria Miranda 45mins), Alina Garciamendez, Veronica Perez, Jennifer Ruiz, Nayeli Rangel, Renae Cuellar (sub Maria Sanchez 77mins), Charlyn Corral, Stephany Mayor, Monica Ocampo (sub Fabiola Ibarra 89mins).
Player of the match: Fran Kirby.
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