ENGLAND 0, CANADA 1
England Lionesses were brought back to earth with a bump following their recent win in the SheBelieves Cup.
Phil Neville’s side was beaten by Canada at the Manchester City Academy Stadium in the first of four friendlies building up to this summer’s World Cup.
England’s manager described it beforehand as “a good test on home soil and with the pressure on us to perform” in what is likely to be the hardest of their build-up games with Canada fifth In the FIFA ranking compared to their third place.
A hard-fought game was settled by a late strike from Canadian legend Christine Sinclair as the 35-year-old scored her 180th goal from 279 senior internationals.
It was a contest of few clear-cut chances as England were rarely troubled defensively but also lacked a cutting edge.
Neville, who described the game as harder than the SheBelieves Cup, was delighted with the workout and thought his side did not deserve to lose.
He said: “It was a brilliant game in terms of a test against a very experienced team.
“We had to be brave but in the final third our composure let us down as we had some good opportunities.
“We are disappointed to have lost and the players were gutted as they don’t like losing.
“I am pleased, but not with the result. We are heading in the right direction but you are going to get the odd bump on the road.”
It was home from home as the England squad included 10 current or former Manchester City players.
City’s Steph Houghton captained an England starting line up that included her team-mates Karen Bardsley, Keira Walsh, Nikita Parris, Demi Stokes and Abbie McManus and former players Lucy Bronze and Toni Duggan.
The substitutes included City pair Jill Scott and Georgia Stanway and Manchester United’s Alex Greenwood.
The best chance of the opening period came late on when Parris forced a flying save from keeper Stephanie Labbie.
Canada would have taken the lead early in the second period but for a fine save by Bardsley to deny Janine Beckie.
Karen Carney and Duggan had chances for England before the predatory Sinclair struck the decisive blow in the 81st minute.
Nichelle Prince’s shot struck the crossbar and Sinclair reacted quickest to slot home the rebound.
Demi Stokes fired into the side netting as England came close to equalising before Canada had a late chance to double their advantage.
Beckie’s shot deflected off Houghton and wrong-footed Bardsley as it flew agonisingly wide.