Liverpool Ladies duo Gemma Bonner and Fara Williams were involved for England Women on Wednesday as the Three Lions lifted the Cyprus Cup following a 1-0 victory against Canada in Larnaca.
Reds midfielder Williams started the game for Mark Sampson’s side whilst Liverpool Ladies captain Bonner appeared as second half substitute as Lianne Sanderson’s second-half goal separated the two sides.
The Three Lions’ previous two wins in the final of this competition, in 2009 and 2013, came at the expense of the Canada and Sanderson’s cool finish made it a hat-trick of victories over the World Cup hosts.
It was the only goal John Herdman’s side conceded in this year’s competition, and it consigned them to their first defeat in 10 matches.
England’s win could provide Mark Sampson’s squad with a timely boost ahead of this summer’s showpiece event. They reached the Cyprus Cup final after group stage wins over Finland and Australia and a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands.
There were nine changes from that draw with the Dutch with only Alex Greenwood and Jordan Nobbs, who captained England for the first time, keeping their place.
And there was a first England appearance in two and a half years for Chelsea left-back Claire Rafferty following her comeback from a third ACL injury.
After a tense start, the game opened up as both goalkeepers were called into action. Manchester City midfielder Jill Scott forced Erin McLeod to tip her side-footed shot over the bar, while Arsenal stopper Siobhan Chamberlain got down smartly to save Christine Sinclair’s low effort from 12 yards.
The irrepressible Sinclair was the focal point of Canada’s attacking play and she might have done better than head wide a cross from Adriana Leon, who replaced Melissa Tancredi midway through the first half.
The game’s only true moment of quality came on 67 minutes when Sanderson finished off a tidy England move.
Greenwood and Rafferty cleared up at the back and the latter played the ball out wide to Nobbs. The skipper’s ball forward was flicked on by Jodie Taylor and the Arsenal striker Sanderson raced on to it, advanced into the area and curled a fine finish beyond McLeod for her second goal of the tournament.
In truth, it was a rare moment of brilliance in an otherwise uneventful contest, but it will matter not to Sampson, who, on the eve of the competition, challenged his side to “win every match” in the build-up to the World Cup.
Canada left-back Allysha Chapman almost equalised in the fifth minute of added time, but Chamberlain produced a wonderful save high to her left to secure the Cyprus Cup for a third time.
England have one more home match before they fly to Canada in June. They entertain China at Manchester City’s new Academy Stadium on Thursday 9 April.
Tickets, priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for concessions, are available via the City website or in person at the Manchester City box office at Etihad Stadium.
England (4-4-2): 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal); 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal), 6 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 14 Alex Greenwood (Notts County), 23 Claire Rafferty (Chelsea); 7 Jordan Nobbs (C; Arsenal), 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 16 Fara Williams (Liverpool), 11 Karen Carney (Birmingham City); 9 Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns), 22 Lianne Sanderson (Arsenal).
Substitutes: 12 Gemma Bonner (Liverpool) for Rafferty 68, 17 Katie Chapman (Chelsea) for J Scott 68, 18 Jade Moore (Birmingham City) for Taylor 88, 10 Fran Kirby (Reading) for Carney 90.
Source:FA.com/Liverpool Ladies FC