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att: 8,273; at Walsall F.C.>
England 2 (Parris 45, Scott 59)
att: 8,273; at Walsall F.C.
A goal in each half gave England victory against Denmark in their penultimate friendly match ahead of the World Cup Finals.
This was not a vintage England display by any means though, they were outplayed for long periods of the match by the Danes, spearheaded by world class striker Pernille Harder, but Phil Neville's side produced two fine goals to give them victory on the day after Denmark had had a goal controversially disallowed in the first half.
Denmark were the quicker side to adapt to the poor playing surface and it needed a block from Jade Moore from a Sanne Troelsgaard shot from the edge of the area.
England were looking unusually vulnerable at the back, particularly from set pieces, and Karen Bardsley needed to save a Signe Bruun effort which was on target but lacked power.
England then produced their best opportunity so far, Jill Scott guiding a through ball into the path of Ellen White who got behind the Danish defence to steer her shot past the oncoming Katrine Abel, but also past the post.
Scott poked a low cross from Georgia Stanway over the bar but Denmark continued to carve out chances at the other end, Bardsley getting down low to gather a strike from Nicoline Sorensen.
Denmark then thought they had taken the lead as Harder headed across for Bruun to bundle home from close range. However, she was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball as she controlled, although it appeared to have come off either her shoulder or collar bone.
That let off became even more significant just two minutes later, as England took the lead against the run of play through a brilliant piece of opportunism. Beth Mead sent a free kick into the area which was only half cleared and Nikita Parris took a touch before drilling a low 15-yard shot shot past Abel for the opening goal.
The goal led to a much more settled performance from England in the second half, although they continued to lack composure at the back, giving the ball away before Sorensen blazed her shot over and then, after Sorensen was found in space on the right, her cross picked out Harder who was denied by a superb point blank save from Bardsley.
England were looking far more assured going forward and this led to them going two up just before the hour. Stanway made a driving run through the centre and fed Mead on the left, where she clipped in a pinpoint cross for Scott to run onto and plant a header past Abel to double her side's lead.
A free kick on the edge of area in the centre, after Demi Stokes had brought down Sorensen, gave Denmark a chance to reduce the arrears but Harder's shot was inches past the post.
At the other end, Abel produced a great piece of handling to collect a dangerous cross from Mead, and another low centre from the Arsenal striker just evaded White in front of goal.
Harder had a header saved by Bardsley but this was the last opportunity for Denmark as England finished the game with more confidence, having been below par for much of the match but, encouragingly, producing the goods when it mattered.
England: Karen Bardsley, Rachel Daly, Demi Stokes, Jade Moore, Leah Williamson, Millie Bright, Nikita Parris (sub Karen Carney 61mins), Jill Scott, Ellen White, Georgia Stanway (sub Fran Kirby 61mins), Beth Mead (sub Lucy Staniforth 80mins). Subs not used: Mary Earps, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Keira Walsh, Steph Houghton, Jodie Taylor, Abbie McManus.
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