Dour 0-0 draw for Lionesses against Portugal in final match on home soil before the World Cup
By Paul Lagan at Stadium MK
England 0 v Portugal 0
As farewell matches on home shores ahead of a World Cup on the other side of the world go, this was a bit of a dull encounter, with England failing to get the better of a limited but resolute Portugal side in a 0-0 draw at Stadium MK.
The first half was as forgettable as it can possibly be, with the second half showing England substitutes had greater depth in ability than their opponents and they could and should have seen off the visitors.
Alessio Russo who came on for lacklustre Rachel Daly had a handful of good chances to net for the Lionesses, but she lacked a bit of sharpness that will need to be restored if she is to lead the line.
Chelsea’s contingent of Jess Carter, Lauren James and sub Niamh Charles performed to their usual high standards.
Millie Bright was deemed still not quite ready for an outing.
Rachel Daly had a great chance to put the Lionesses 1-0 up after five minutes. She got onto a deep Lauren Hemp left byline cross. She directed her header towards to left post area of Ines Pereira’s goal, but the stopper managed to tip the ball away to safety
By and large it was as dull as dishwater of a first half with Portugal intent to sit back and attack on the counter whenever possible.
For their part, England were sluggish in midfield with too many easy passes made just to retain possession, which is fine when you are 2-0 up with a minute left on the clock, but not when you are in need of piercing a tight defence.
Hemp and James appeared to be the best outlets for this but we’re given the ball infrequently.
England made a number of changes at half time, on came Chloe Kelly, Russo, and Charles, off went Alex Greenwood, Ella Toone, and Daly.
The changes saw Hemp move across to the right, with James operating more in the centre with Kelly taking over the left wing berth.
The Lionesses were far more purposeful as a result of personnel and formation changes, and they were unlucky not to take the lead on 60 minutes when first Russo saw a lung-busting run into the Portugal penalty area and shot on goal thwarted by a last-gasp sliced clearance by Adreia Norton,.
This was quickly followed by Lucy Bronze rattling the upright with a powerful header and Russo again missing out when her low drive inched wide of the opposition’s goal.
Katie Zelem and Laura Coombs came on, on 66 minutes.
Charles almost scored on 74 minutes when she arrived late in the Portugal penalty area and latched onto a Kelly cross. Her header, while powerful and on target, went straight into the gloves of Pereira.
Hemp and Kelly then changed wings to revert to their natural side.
Kelly set up Russo, who again was inches wide of thumping the ball home on 78 minutes.
Katie Robinson entered the fray on 80 minutes with Hemp coming off.
But the game ran out of steam, Portugal were happy to not lose, England disappointed not to have given the 26, 267 crowd something to cheer about.
Teams: England, Earps, Bronze, Walsh, Greenwood, James, Stanway, Daly, Toone, Hemp, Carter, Morgan
Subs: Hampton, Roebuck, Charles, Wubben-May, Coombs, Kelly, England, Zelenskyy, Robinson, Russo, Le Tissier, Staniforth
Portugal: Pereira, Amado, Norton, Borges, Jessica Silva, Pinto, Dolores Silva, Costa, Diana Silva, Gomes, Nazareth
subs: Morris, Route Costa, Alves, Rebelo, Marchao, Jacinto, Route, Seica, Mendes, Encarnacao, Correia