By 90Min
April 05, 2019

In a battle between two of the world's top five teams, England suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat thanks to a late strike from Canada legend Christine Sinclair at Manchester City's Academy Stadium.

A frantic opening period saw both sides struggle to create any clear-cut chances, with Manchester City's Nikita Parris going closest when her effort from the edge of the area just before half time drew a fine save from Canada's Stephanie Labbe. 

Five minutes into the second half, Parris' City teammate Janine Beckie almost opened the scoring for the visitors when her own fierce drive from just outside the box was well turned round by Karen Bardsley. Toni Duggan then had England's best effort of the game when her effort trickled wide of the far post, with the Lionesses seemingly unable to convert their chances.

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And, with just ten minutes remaining, Phil Neville's side were left to rue their missed opportunities, when Nichelle Prince's volley cannoned off the crossbar, and into the feet of veteran forward Sinclair to fire home and consign the Lionesses to a surprise defeat.


Key Talking Point

Having seen his side rise up to third in the FIFA world rankings, Phil Neville's Lionesses came into the game against Canada with a sense of expectation. With the World Cup in France later this summer coming ever closer, Neville took the opportunity before the game to declare that his players were all 'fighting for their places'.

If he'd hoped that the claim would eliminate any complacency and get his players motivated for the clash, then he would have been left disappointed by his players' first-half performance which saw their promising build-up play being let down in the final third. 

After the break, the Lionesses came out of the traps far quicker, and began to create more opportunities, but were made to pay for their profligacy when Sinclair struck the winner. Whilst only a friendly, Neville will be hoping the performances pick up with just three games left before the World Cup in June.

Player Ratings:

Starting XI: Bardsley (8); Daly (7), Houghton (7), McManus (7), Stokes (7); Walsh (6), Duggan (8*), Bronze (7); Parris (8), Taylor (6), Carney (7).

Substitutes: Mead (7), Scott (6), White (6), Stanway (N/A)

STAR PLAYER - Despite both sides' defences coming out on top in a match short of attacking magic, Barcelona's Toni Duggan was arguably the brightest spark for England. The forward played in more of a deeper role than usual, and was often the link between the Lionesses' two holding midfielders, Lucy Bronze and Kiera Walsh, and the front three. 

Duggan came close to opening the scoring for England in the second half, and whilst things didn't always come off for the forward, Neville will once again look to the former Manchester City star for the side's inspiration in the summer.


Key Talking Point

For Canada, Friday's clash was just as much about seeking revenge as it was preparing for their own potential exploits this summer. Kenneth Heiner-Moller's side were knocked out on home soil at the quarter-finals stage at the 2015 World Cup by England, when goals from Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze were enough to consign the Canadians to a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat.

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Despite coming up against an in form England side, Canada didn't look overawed by the occasion and were a threat on the counter-attack with the hold-up play of Christine Sinclair up front and the guile of Sophie Schmidt in midfield. 

Having withstood intense spells of pressure, they eventually punished England when Sinclair got a deserved goal late on. Having tasted a devastating defeat at their home World Cup four years ago, this victory would surely have tasted all the sweeter for the Canadians.

Player Ratings:

Starting XI: Labbe (7); Lawrence (7), Buchanan (7), Zadorsky (8), Chapman (7); Schmidt (8), Scott (7); Prince (7), Fleming (6), Beckie (7); Sinclair (8*).

Substitutes: Riviere (6), Grosso (6)


With England dominating the majority of the ball, the veteran forward was an immense presence at holding the ball up for others and trying to get Canada a foothold. It was a display of real leadership, and she got her due rewards when she was on hand to fire home with just ten minutes to go. Her 279th cap, her 180th goal.

Looking Ahead

After facing Canada on Friday night, Phil Neville's side make the trip to Swindon's County Ground on Tuesday to take on Spain, with just two more friendly games left after that, before the World Cup begins on 7 June.

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