Report: England WU23s 2-0 Portugal
Goals from Jessica Naz and Kiera Skeels help Young Lionesses to victory at the Joie Stadium
England women’s under-23s turned on the style as they defeated Portugal 2-0 at Manchester City Women’s Joie Stadium on Monday night.
Second-half goals from Jessica Naz and Kiera Skeels helped Emma Coates’ side to victory and in truth they could have won by an even greater margin after creating a host of chances in front of the 1,449 fans watching on.
Portugal headed wide within four minutes of the match starting but England went on to create several good chances in both halves.
A fine ball from Poppy Pattinson released Ebony Salmon on the left and she did well to beat her marker before hitting a shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Pattinson then hit the post two minutes later when she whipped in a powerful cross which went over the goalkeeper and struck the right-hand post.
Some good play from Laura Blindkilde Brown and Aggie Beever-Jones saw Missy Bo Kearns carry the ball the full length on the half before her through-ball to Beever-Jones was just cut out.
Portugal carried a threat though and had a couple of chances in quick succession, as Maria Alagoa tried to catch Kayla Rendell off her line and Mafalda Barboz curled an in-swinging effort from outside of the box but on both occasions, England’s goalkeeper was equal to them.
The Young Lionesses almost opened the scoring in impressive fashion midway through the half as Pattinson delivered a great ball up to Beever-Jones, who played a one-touch pass to Katie Robinson on the right. The Brighton forward beat her defender and whipped in a dangerous cross that Portugal cleared. Kearns chased it down and passed out to Ebony Salmon on the right but her effort sailed just over.
Four minutes later and Portugal goalkeeper Carolina Vilao had to be at her best to save from Kearns’ free-kick which was heading into the left-hand corner, with Blindkilde Brown unable to convert the tricky rebound.
Tara Bourne headed over Kearns’ corner six minutes later and Beever-Jones fired a powerful shot straight at the goalkeeper but England had to settle for going into the break level.
However, two minutes after the restart, Naz – who had come on just before the interval for the injured Katie Robinson – scored with her first touches of the game after slotting the ball into the bottom right corner following an impressive through ball by Beever-Jones.
Skeels was next to go close as she had a goal-bound header blocked but then similar to the first half, England’s goalkeeper had to make two impressive saves in quick succession.
First, Barboz showed silky feet before firing a dipping shot which Rendell had to tip over the bar and then two minutes later Portugal thought they were set to score the equaliser with a header from a corner but again, the Southampton shot-stopper was equal to it.
As we entered the final quarter of an hour, England really ramped up the pressure and Ella Morris had a powerful strike blocked for a corner.
And it was from the corner that England doubled their advantage as Pattinson’s delivery was headed in by Skeels.
The Young Lionesses continued to apply pressure and Beever-Jones went close soon after following Naz’s through ball.
Ruby Mace was keen to add her name to the scoresheet as the Manchester City midfielder rattled the crossbar with a 25-yard strike and then sent another long-range effort just wide a few minutes later.
England showed no signs of letting up as Beever-Jones went close again, this time controlling the ball brilliantly, beating the defender and just shooting wide.
Then in injury-time, Beever-Jones sent a bicycle kick just wide before rattling the woodwork yet again a minute later.
England: 1 Kayla Rendell (Southampton), 2 Ella Morris (Southampton), 3 Poppy Pattinson (Brighton & Hove Albion), 4 Ruby Mace (Manchester City), 5 Kiera Skeels (Charlton Athletic), 6 Tara Bourne (Sheffield United), 7 Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albion), 8 Missy Bo Kearns (Liverpool) (C), 9 Aggie Beever-Jones (Chelsea), 10 Laura Blindkilde Brown (Aston Villa), 11 Ebony Salmon (Aston Villa),
Substitutes: 14 Jessica Naz (Tottenham Hotspur) for Robinson 45+2, 15 Freya Gregory (Reading, on loan from Aston Villa) for Salmon 61, 12 Molly Pike (Southampton) for Pattinson 85, 23 Lucia Kendall (Southampton) for Blindkilde Brown 85
Substitutes not used: 13 Lucy Thomas (Birmingham City), 22 Emily Ramsey (Everton), 16 Anouk Denton (West Ham), 17 Melisa Filis (West Ham), 18 Ruby Grant (BK Hacken), 19 5 Naomi Layzell (Bristol City), 20 Emma Harries (West Ham), 21 Mia Ross (Charlton Athletic)
Head coach: Emma Coates
Goals: Jessica Naz 47, Kiera Skeels 76
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