England left to regret Aluko's missed chances

Mexico 1 England 1
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The Independent Online

The profligacy of striker Eniola Aluko cost England dear as Hope Powell's team surrendered the lead and then wasted several chances – all of them dropping to the New Jersey Sky Blue forward – to claim victory yesterday over hard-working but limited opponents in their opening group match of the Women's World Cup in Wolfsburg.



Rather than blame the 24-year-old former Chelsea player, however, the national coach Powell singled out the striker's Sky Blue goalkeeping colleague Karen Bardsley as culpable for the Mexican goal. The draw means the pressure will now be on England to win their second group game against New Zealand, who were yesterday beaten 2-1 by Japan in the other Group B match.

The Everton midfielder Fara Williams headed England into a 21st minute lead that was cancelled out by Monica Ocampo 12 minutes later, the left-winger hoisting a 30-yard drive that sailed over Bardsley to drop inside the angle of post and bar.

"We had chances and should have scored more goals," said Powell, "but the turning point was the [Mexico] goal. I'll have to look at it again, but Karen's very disappointed and I thought she should have saved it.

"In the first half we dominated, but the equaliser gave them confidence after they'd been on the back foot. In the end I was disappointed that we didn't win, but I was pleased we didn't lose and now we'll work hard to beat New Zealand on Friday."

Mexico's coach Leonardo Cuellar, whose team were denied a stoppage- time winner by a tremendous block by substitute Ellen White, said: "I didn't like the beginning, we were in trouble sometimes, but I liked the end."

With England expected to win against a side 12 places below them at 22nd in the world rankings, Powell's team took a little while to get into gear but looked set to cruise to victory after Williams had headed the opener from right-winger Karen Carney's corner.

The left-winger Rachel Yankey and Williams both had goalbound shots well saved by Cecelia Santiago, at 16 the youngest goalkeeper in the history of any World Cup, women's or men's. But the game turned when Ocampo side-stepped the right-back Alex Scott to comprehensively beat Bardsley.

Four minutes after the break the striker Maribel Dominguez went close with a 20-yard free-kick that flew just wide. But in the 54th minute Aluko wasted a simple chance to restore England's lead when she completely missed her kick three yards from goal. Five minutes later she sent a shot straight at Santiago, and on 66 minutes put an effort hopelessly wide from 12 yards.

Both sides went close late on but England had a real fright in the third minute of stoppage time, when White had to fling herself in front of Mayor's goalbound shot to deflect it past the post.

Mexico (4-5-1): Santiago; Vinti, Garciamendez, Sandoval, Saucedo; Mayor, Garza (Noyola, 85), Worbis, Rangel, Ocampo; Dominguez (Lopez, 77).

England (4-2-3-1): Bardsley (New Jersey); A Scott (Boston), F White (Arsenal), Stoney (Lincoln), Unitt (Everton); J Scott (Everton), Williams (Everton); Carney (Birmingham City), Smith (Boston Breakers), Yankey (Arsenal); Aluko (New Jersey).

Substitutes used: Bradley (Lincoln) for F White, 81; E White (Arsenal) for Carney, 71.

Referee S Reyes (Peru).

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