England’s SheBelieves Cup defence comes to an end

England’s SheBelieves Cup defence came to an end as they were beaten 1-0 by Spain at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco.

England v Spain in the SheBelieves Cup
England v Spain in the SheBelieves Cup

The Lionesses failed to capitalise on a dominant first-half performance as they rued missed chances from Nikita Parris and Ellen White.

Alexia Putellas headed home for Spain in the 83rd minute to seal victory for Jorge Vilda’s side and inflict England’s seventh defeat in 11 games.

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In warm conditions in Dallas, Phil Neville made eight changes to the side that recorded a 1-0 victory over Japan.

White returned to the starting line-up after Bethany England missed out with a slight ankle strain picked up in training.

Lauren Hemp was ruled out through illness and Steph Houghton was rested giving Abbie McManus her first involvement in the tournament.

Toni Duggan started an England match for the first time in seven months while Parris made her 50th appearance for the national side.

It was a lively start from the off for the two sides as they both experienced periods of possession and Carly Telford was called into action a couple of times.

Ten minutes into the game and Parris had a first opportunity when she ran at Leila Ouahabi but her effort went wide of the post.

Soon after Jill Scott played in White, who looked to hit the target, but her shot blazed over the bar.

Parris and White combined well in the opening stages, creating runs into the final third but the end product was still missing.

The Lionesses soon had their best chance of the first half when Jordan Nobbs put a delightful cross into the box, but it was missed by White and Parris couldn’t net the rebound.

Neville’s side put sustained pressure on the Spanish goal, after Vilda’s team continued to play out from the back but the sides couldn’t be separated at the break.

In the second half, Houghton came onto the pitch to replace Millie Bright while Spain made three changes of their own.

The Lionesses found themselves under pressure as Spain grew into the game and they had their best chance when Ainhoa Moraza sprinted past McManus and turned Houghton but Telford came to the rescue.

Attack after attack came from Spain including when Virginia Torrecilla’s long long-range effort dipped just over the crossbar but England continued to hold firm.

Chloe Kelly came onto the pitch and provided a spark for the Lionesses, creating chances in the final third and shooting into the side-netting twice.

But it was defending the set piece that let down Neville’s side once more as Putellas was given too much space in the box and scored a bullet header into the top corner.

Spain peppered the England goal in the closing stages before the Lionesses had a final chance when a free-kick was played in across the goal but Parris was unable to meet it.