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ENGLAND 1 (Chapman 29) SPAIN 0
att: 5,041; at The New Den, Millwall
A first half goal from local girl Katie Chapman gave England a vital 1-0 win against their main group rivals Spain but they had to endure some anxious moments near the end of the game in order to secure the three valuable points.
Hope Powell recalled star striker Kelly Smith to the starting line up in place of the unfortunate Lianne Sanderson and Dunia Susi also made way for the returning Jess Clarke, Alex Scott reverting to her regular position at right back, while Rachel Brown was preferred to Karen Bardsley in goal.
With both teams defending 100% records going into the match, the opening exchanges were understandably cagey and it was Chapman who produced the first meaningful effort on goal, drilling a shot just wide from Eniola Aluko's cut back. Shortly afterwards, Spain had appeals for a penalty after Brown challenged Adriana Martin in the area but they were turned down by the referee.
As the game moved towards the half hour, England made a crucial breakthrough. Aluko made a driving run through the centre before finding Clarke on the right. The winger's cross picked out Chapman by the penalty spot, where she struck a perfectly placed shot past Ainhoa Tirapu and into the corner of the net.
England enjoyed a great spell ahead of the interval with Fara Williams going close to scoring from a free kick and Rachel Yankey shooting over the bar. However they needed to be alert in first half injury time as Veronica Boquete, who impressed up front for Spain all match, sent in a delightful cross for Elisabet Ibarra who elected to control instead of shooting and Casey Stoney was able to clear.
England produced the first meaningful effort on goal at the start of the second half, Yankey's speculative shot being turned past the post by Tirapu. The resulting corner saw a superbly floated kick from Yankey pick out Williams at the far post but she headed wide.
Spain hit back with a lobbed effort by Sonia Bermudez being clutched at full stretch by Brown and a some sloppy passing almost led England into trouble, being rescued as Rachel Unitt produced an excellent saving tackle on Boquete.
However England were given a huge let off with seven minutes remaining, Boquete found space on the right and weaved her way past a couple of challenges before cutting the ball back to Ma Jose Perez, who attempted an audacious flick when a sidefoot would have sufficed, and the chance was wasted.
Spain were to go even closer when Chapman was harshly penalised for a foul on Perez 25 yards from goal. Adriana Martin stepped up to take the resulting free kick and shot, which looked goalbound, beat the diving Brown but was inches wide, clipping the side netting.
That was the final scare for England as they ran down the clock through injury time to take themselves level on points with Spain, but with a game in hand.
England: Rachel Brown, Alex Scott, Rachel Unitt, Katie Chapman, Faye White, Casey Stoney, Jess Clarke, Fara Williams, Eniola Aluko (sub Ellen White 70mins), Kelly Smith (sub Jill Scott 60mins), Rachel Yankey (sub Sue Smith 84mins). Subs not used: Karen Bardsley, Dunia Susi, Laura Bassett, Lianne Sanderson.
Spain: Ainhoa Tirapu, Marta Torrejon, Sonia Vesga, Ruth Garcia, Sonia Bermudez (sub Ma Jose Perez 66mins), Veronica Boquete, Adriana Martin, Sandra Vilanova (sub Silvia Meseguer 80mins), Ana Maria Escribano, Amaia Olabarrieta, Elisabet Ibarra (sub Ana Maria Romero 75mins). Subs not used: Maria Jose Pons, Melisa Nicolau, Alejandra Lopez, Erika Vazquez.
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