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Sweden 2 (Jakobsson 20, Anvegard 34)
att: 9,561; at Rotherham United FC>
Sweden 2 (Jakobsson 20, Anvegard 34)
att: 9,561; at Rotherham United FC
England's final match of 2018 and the occasion of Steph Houghton's 100th cap ended on a disappointing note as they were beaten by a well organised Swedish side at Rotherham.
Following the 3-0 win in Austria three days earlier, Phil Neville changed his entire starting line up with captain Houghton becoming her country's latest centurion and she was presented with a special shirt ahead of the game.
That presentation proved to be a rare highlight in a largely sluggish performance from England in which they struggled to make an impression against the Swedish defence. Izzy Christiansen provided their only opportunity during the opening stages with a shot over the bar.
Instead, on the twenty minute mark, Sofia Jakobsson picked the ball up on the right nad cut inside past Beth Mead and made her way towards the area, no England player closed her down and the former Chelsea striker planted an exquisite left shot into the corner of the net, giving Carly Telford no chance.
Jordan Nobbs forced a save from Hedvig Lindahl at the other end but the Swedes were in the ascendancy and were unlucky not to go two ahead when Caroline Seger headed against the post from a corner.
The next Sweden corner was to put them further ahead though, England failed to clear and Anna Anvegard was on the spot to hook the ball in from close range and score her first international goal.
Beth Mead headed wide as England tried to reduce the arrears before half time but Sweden were worthy of their two-goal lead going into the interval.
Toni Duggan was brought on as a half time substitute and England started the second half a lot brighter. They created a good opportunity as Lucy Bronze made a strong run towards the penalty area and cut the ball back to Christiansen who blazed her shot over.
England were having much the better of the play now but could not break down a strong Swedish defence, with the experienced Caroline Seger in outstanding form in front of them.
Sweden managed to ride out the period of England pressure and chances became scarcer at either end, although with ten minutes remaining, Telford pulled off a good save to keep out a well struck effort from Fridolina Rolfo.
Parris drove a half chance wide under pressure and it was the last opportunity on a bad day at the office for England who huffed and puffed for much of the second half but could not get through a Sweden side serving notice that they will once again be tough opposition in next year's World Cup Finals.
England: Carly Telford, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Izzy Christiansen (sub Georgia Stanway 73mins), Steph Houghton, Millie Bright, Nikita Parris, Jill Scott (sub Lucy Staniforth 83mins), Rachel Daly (sub Melissa Lawley 73mins), Jordan Nobbs, Beth Mead (sub Toni Duggan 45mins). Subs not used: Hannah Blundell, Mary Earps, Abbie McManus, Leah Williamson, Gabby George, Karen Carney, Ellie Roebuck, Chioma Ubogagu.
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl, Amanda Ilestedt, Linda Sembrant, Magdalena Eriksson, Jessica Samuelsson (sub Nathalie Bjorn 61mins), Elin Rubensson (sub Julia Roddar 90mins), Caroline Seger (sub Hanna Folkesson 79mins), Jonna Andersson, Sofia Jakobsson (sub Lina Hurtig 79mins), Kosovare Asllani (sub Olivia Schough 90mins), Anna Anvegard (sub Fridolina Rolfo 61mins).
Photos by Julian Barker:
(top) Steph Houghton closes down Lina Hurtig
(middle) Sofia Jakobsson scores the opening goal for Sweden
(bottom) Hedvig Lindahl gathers under pressure from Rachel Daly
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