Two headers from Rachel Daly ensured England made it two wins from two in the Arnold Clark Cup. The Lionesses beat Italy 2-1 at the Coventry Building Society Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Goals in each half from the in-form Aston Villa forward secured the win for England. Daly’s second came after Sofia Cantore had levelled in controversial fashion just past the hour mark.
Sarina Wiegman made a total of nine changes, handing first international starts to Jess Park and Katie Robinson. The Dutch head coach named one of the most experimental line-ups of her reign for the tilt.
While England began on the front foot, it would be Italy’s Martina Lenzini who would get the first chance of the game. The away side fashioned an early break – thankfully, Ellie Roebuck was equal to Lenzini’s near post drive.
Daly would then have two efforts to put the Lionesses into an early lead. The first of these drew an excellent save from Laura Giuliani in the Italian net to keep it scoreless.
Daly strikes first
England’s striker would eventually find the net in the 32nd minute. The lively Katie Robinson crossed perfectly for the Aston Villa forward to nod home from close range to give England the lead.
The second half almost began in the same way as the first half ended. A wonderful right wing cross from Robinson found Daly in the area once again, but her connection wasn’t perfect. Her strong effort sailed just over the bar.
It would then be the turn of half time substitute Jordan Nobbs to go close. Her strong play in the box forced Giuliani into an excellent point blank save.
A goalmouth scramble eventually fell the way of the Villa midfielder but her goal-bound shot was tipped away. Seconds later, Nobbs would sting the stopper’s hands again with a shot from the edge of the area.
Despite the home side enjoying the lion’s share of possession it would be Italy would draw level just before the hour mark. The goal would arrive in controversial fashion, however.
A controversial equalizer
The goal would come when Cantore touched over the line from a Barbara Bonansea cross. The original cross looked to have actually gone out of play before it was looped into the box. There was also a degree of uncertainty over whether Cantore’s shot had even crossed the line itself. Replays seemed to confirm that the ball did go out of play prior to the cross. The replay also confirmed that the ball fully crossed the goal line after this.
However, no goal line technology was present at the match, and the goal was awarded. This decision was made much to the displeasure of the Coventry crowd.
Make it two for Rachel Daly
It did not take long for England to regain the lead. A teasing cross from Lauren James was nodded home expertly into the corner of the net by Daly. England’s 9 for the day terrorized the Italian backline all afternoon.
In the end it was enough to help England take a narrow win over Italy. This means that next week’s final Arnold Clark Cup game at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate will be a straight shoot out between the Lionesses and Belgium for the trophy. Will Sarina Wiegman’s undefeated run as England manager continue?
England: Roebuck, Greenwood (Wubben-Moy 63), Walsh (Nobbs 46), Hemp, Park (Zelem 46), Carter, Charles, Robinson, Le Tissier, Coombs, Daly (Salmon 80)
Italy: Giuliani, Bergamaschi (Orsi 70), Galli (Caruso 55), Giugliano, Rosucci (Greggi 79), Giacinti, Girelli (Cantore 56), Bonansea (Serturini 79), Boattin (Linari 45), Lenzini, Salvai