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Women's Football News
Italy 2 (Mauro 15,45)
Two first half goals from Ilaria Mauro sent Wales to a 2-0 defeat in Cesena in the latest of their friendly matches in preparation for the UEFA Euro 2021 qualifying groups.
Wales manager Jayne Ludlow opted for a mix of youth and experience in her starting line up, with Emma Jones winning her first cap and Cori Williams getting her first start for her country, while Hayley Ladd earned her 50th cap. The game was scheduled to kick off at 6pm local time but it was bought forward by two hours because of the weather forecast and played under increasing snowfall.
Italy, sat ten places above Wales in the FIFA rankings, started on the front foot and came close to scoring in the opening ten minutes as Williams cleared a goalmouth scramble off the line.
Italy broke the deadlock after fifteen minutes as the Welsh defence struggled to deal with a well delivered from the right hand side which was met by the head of striker Ilaria Mauro for the opening goal.
However, as the half progressed Wales settled into the game and created several chances of their own. Some well worked play by Elise Hughes found Jessica Fishlock through on goal but goalkeeper Rosalia Pipitone made no issue of clearing up. Fishlock came close again minutes later as her well struck volley from outside the box was parried away by the Azzurre keeper.
With Wales looking like ending the half on the front foot, the Italians struck a cruel blow. As Wales conceded possession in their own half, Mauro made no mistake in capitalising with an impressive dinked finish over Laura O'Sullivan from the edge of the box.
With the scoreline open, Ludlow encouraged the side to play more attacking football in the second half and the attacking intent became obvious as Wales played some impressive two-touch football in the Azzurre half and kept Pipitone busy again.
Ludlow also gave game time for several squad members as Grace Horrell won her first senior cap and goalkeeper Claire Skinner was given game time for the first time in two years. Wales' best chance of the match came in the final minute of the match.
A well delivered free kick by the experienced Fishlock was headed across the box by captain Sophie Ingle and Cori Williams was unlucky to see her strike parried away by Pipitone as the Italian made sure she kept a clean sheet.
Wales will meet up again in February for a warm weather training camp in Malaga, when they will also play a friendly agaisnt Republic of Ireland. They will then play a double header of matches at home against the Czech Republic in early April.
Wales: Laura O'Sullivan (sub Claire Skinner 76mins), Gemma Evans, Sophie Ingle, Cori Williams, Hayley Ladd, Rhiannon Roberts (sub Loren Dykes 76mins), Angharad James, Jessica Fishlock, Natasha Harding (sub Gwen Davies 76mins), Elise Hughes (sub Grace Horrell 84mins), Emma Jones (sub Helen Ward 63mins). Subs not used: Nadia Lawrence, Kylie Nolan, Charlie Estcourt, Anna Filbey, Megan Wynne, Ella Powell.
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