England held to goalless draw by Portugal in Women’s World Cup warm-up

England held to goalless draw by Portugal in Women’s World Cup warm-up

England were unable to make the most of their chances as they were held to a goalless draw by Portugal in their send-off warm-up match at Stadium MK ahead of the Women’s World Cup.

Georgia Stanway sent an effort against the bar, Lucy Bronze’s header hit the post and substitute Alessia Russo was denied by a goalline block as the European champions created a number of opportunities to no avail.

Other notable moments included Lauren Hemp heading over and Russo firing wide from fine positions in a somewhat frustrating last home game for the Lionesses before departing the country for this summer’s showpiece in Australia and New Zealand.

Sarina Wiegman
Sarina Wiegman’s side were frustrated by Portugal (Martin Rickett/PA)

Sarina Wiegman’s players fly to Australia on Wednesday and face Canada behind closed doors in another, final warm-up on July 14 before opening their World Cup campaign against Haiti in Brisbane eight days later.

The Dutchwoman made three changes to her starting XI from April’s 2-0 loss to Australia, the team’s first defeat in their 31st outing under her.

That included regular skipper and Milton Keynes native Leah Williamson, ruled out of the World Cup by an ACL injury, being replaced in defence by Alex Greenwood, who started at left-back, with Jess Carter in the centre.

Women’s Super League Golden Boot winner Daly also came in, getting the nod ahead of Russo up front, as did Lauren James for Chloe Kelly.

With Millie Bright, squad captain in the absence of Williamson, unavailable as she continued to build back up after knee surgery, goalkeeper Mary Earps skippered the side.

England v Portugal – Women’s International Friendly – Stadium MK
Rachel Daly twice went close early on (George Tewkesbury/PA)

Taking on a team ranked 17 places below them at 21st and heading to their first World Cup this summer, England made a lively start, with Daly seeing two headers saved by goalkeeper Ines Pereira in quick succession early on.

Daly was subsequently just unable to get a touch on James’ cross into the danger zone just past the quarter hour mark, and Ella Toone struck wide moments later.

The hosts then struggled to build much momentum for the remainder of the half, with an acrobatic 35th-minute attempt over the bar from Daly the only real effort of note, until Stanway, making her 50th England appearance, diverted the ball against the bar from Hemp’s cross shortly before the interval.

Wiegman made a treble change at the break, with Russo, Kelly and Niamh Charles being brought on for Daly, Toone and Greenwood, and the opening stages of the second half saw two Kelly shots saved by Pereira either side of Hemp heading over from a great position.

Alessia Russo
Alessia Russo (second right) went close in the second half (Martin Rickett/PA)

England’s pressure continued as Russo took the ball around Pereira only to be thwarted by an Ana Borges’ block on the line, Bronze headed against the post and Russo then struck wide when looking certain to score.

Having had little to do, Earps then survived a scare as she misjudged a pass from Hemp and the ball rolled past the post and out for a corner.

England dealt comfortably with that, as Pereira then did with efforts from Russo and Charles.

Russo tried her luck twice more after that but saw the ball go wide again on both occasions as England failed to secure a sign-off victory before heading Down Under.