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England 2 (Kirby 2, Taylor 84) Spain 0
England showed that football is all about scoring goals as they moved themselves closer to the quarter finals with victory over a stylish Spain side.
Despite having only 26% of possession during the game and being outpassed and forced back for most of the ninety minutes, Mark Sampson's side had the greater cutting edge and restricted Spain to just a single chance in the first minute and were clinical in front of goal themselves when their chances came.
However England should really have been a goal behind in the opening minute as a slip from Steph Houghton let in Vicky Losada on goal but the midfielder fired wide with only Karen Bardsley to beat.
That miss was made to look even more costly a minute later when Ellen White's pass released Fran Kirby on goal where she showed good composure to slot the ball past Sandra Panos for the opening goal.
England then thought they had gone two ahead four minutes later, as Millie Bright headed in from a Jordan Nobbs free kick. However their celebrations were cut short by an offside flag, possibly raised against Lucy Bronze and not the goalscorer.
The hectic pace continued and a corner won on the left by England was taken quickly. Kirby nipped past one defender before her low cross was half cleared as far as Houghton, who fired well over from just inside the area.
Spain settled down into their passing and possession game but with England setting up two banks of four in defence in midfield, virtually all of their passes were in front of the England back four and as a result, Bardsley was hardly threatened apart from a tame Jennifer Hermoso shot which she easily saved.
Silvia Meseguer cleverly lobbed the ball over the England defence for Alexis Putellas, Bardsley came out and just got a touch to the ball before poleaxing the Spanish midfielder, fortunately for England the touch was enough to prevent any fears of a penalty being awarded.
Bright made a vital interception to prevent a long ball by Amanda Sampedro from reaching Putellas as the pattern of the game continued after the break with Spain passing the ball around and England keeping two banks of four in defence and midfield.
The main talking point of the game arrived with fifteen minutes remaining as Ellen White slipped whilst trying to clear a cross from the left and the ball struck her arm, a penalty being awarded. However the referee bizarrely appeared to change her mind and deem the handball to be accidental as it had struck White's leg first and - to the confusion of almost everyone in the stadium, particularly the Spaniards - play restarted with a drop ball.
The decision appeared to knock the heart out of the Spaniards and England began to have their best spell of possession during the game. Jill Scott drove a shot just wide but with six minutes remaining, Jade Moore's pass was flicked on by Nobbs into the path of Taylor who clinically found the corner of the net from twelve yards for her fourth goal of the tournament.
The game could hardly have been a bigger contrast to the victory over Scotland but, in a performance reminiscent of some of those in the World Cup two years ago, they showed once again that they will be a tough side to break down during the course of this campaign.
England are not mathematically through to the quarter finals yet, with a point in their final game against Portugal being good enough to see them qualify as group winners.
Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Jill Scott, Millie Bright, Steph Houghton, Jordan Nobbs, Jade Moore, Jodie Taylor (sub Jo Potter 88mins), Fran Kirby (sub Izzy Christiansen 68mins), Ellen White (sub Toni Duggan 76mins).
Sandra Panos, Marta Torrejon, Irene Paredes, Andrea Pereira, Marta Corredera, Amanda Sampedro (sub Virginia Torrecilla 88mins), Jennifer Hermoso, Alexia Putellas, Vicky Losada (sub Olga Garcia 72mins), Silvia Meseguer, Leila Ouahabi (sub Barbara Latorra 88mins).
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Fran Kirby puts England ahead in the second minute
(middle) England celebrate Fran Kirby's opening goal
(bottom) Jodie Taylor wraps up the win with the second goal
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