By 90Min
April 10, 2019

England were able to bounce back from defeat in their Women's World Cup warm up against Canada last week to beat Spain 2-1 on Tuesday night as Lionesses manager Phil Neville continues to tweak his plans and make preparations for the tournament this summer.

Exploring his options by naming a much changed team from the side that narrowly lost against the Canadians, Neville even made a handful of substitutions in the second half that he explained were deliberately intended to 'break the rhythm' of his team to see how players would respond.

Alex Davidson/GettyImages

Ahead of the World Cup one can see the logic as not everything will go England's way at the tournament and there may be times that players need to dig themselves out of a hole.

Against a Spain side ranked 10 places lower in the world by FIFA, England broke the deadlock in the final 10 minutes of the first half when Arsenal forward Beth Mead slid to reach a low ball driven across the face of the six yard box by Ellen White.

It is the continuation of a fine season for Mead, who leads the domestic Women's Super League in assists and has now scored three international goals already in 2019.

From provider to scorer, Birmingham's White then added England's second just under a minute into the second half, sweeping a first time finish high into the net after the Lionesses had held unbroken possession of the ball since the kickoff.

Spain pulled one back through Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmarti after a fine passing move, while the same player had the chance to equalise for Spain later on but failed to capitalise on a slip from substitute England goalkeeper Mary Earps. But England held firm and prevailed 2-1.

For Neville, what transpired at the game in Swindon fitted his plan perfectly.

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"I knew that the subs would break the rhythm of our team but I wanted to see how our back four would cope and how our midfield players would dig in," he told BBC Sport afterwards.

"For us to do well at a World Cup, there are going to be games when we're going to have to dig in and block shots. That's what I wanted to see."

This is the same manager who commented prior to the Canada game that it is 'fantastic' to see anger from players left out of the starting lineup. It is clear he wants to nurture a winning mentality and an environment where players are strong enough to flourish in adversity.

"It was quite fun watching them stretched, out of their comfort zone, shattered and running from side to side. So it was a really good workout that went exactly as I wanted it to," he said.

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England will commence their World Cup campaign on 9 June in Nice against Scotland, before further games against Argentina and Japan. As favourites to top Group D, it is possible the Lionesses could face Spain in the round of 16 if La Roja finish third in Group B.

Before any of that however, England face two final warm up friendlies on the 'Road to France' against Denmark in May and New Zealand in June. Both games will be broadcast live on BBC television channels - you can click here to see the schedule and channel info.

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