England 1 Canada 0 (Half-time 0-0)
A solitary goal from England's Lianne Sanderson proved enough to clinch victory over the World Cup hosts to be, Canada, in Larnaca yesterday. For the England women, it was their third success in seven years at the friendly invitational tournament in Cyprus, providing a timely boost in their preparations ahead of this summer's World Cup competition.
The 27-year-old Sanderson struck for England in the 67th minute with a delightful curling shot, with an assist from Jodie Taylor, who had been the hat-trick heroine in their earlier group win over Australia. It was a particularly sweet moment for the Arsenal striker, after Mark Sampson had shown his faith in her by recalling her to the squad, following her previous intention to stay away from England duty while Hope Powell had been at the reins. Sanderson was also returning to familiar surroundings, having previously had a loan spell at Cyprus side Apollon Limassol.
The win halted Canada's recent run of form, after being unbeaten in nine previous games prior to the final, and was also the first goal they had conceded in the competition up to that point. Canada will no doubt hate the sight of the English team, having been the vanquished opponents in each of England's previous Cyprus Cup successes in 2009 and 2013.
Sampson's side will have been delighted for the main part with their time in Cyprus, remaining undefeated throughout the competition. A 3-1 victory over Finland had set them on their way, despite having Gemma Bonner sent off late on, with strikes for Sanderson, Eniola Aluko and Jess Clarke. They followed that up with an emphatic 3-0 success over the Aussies as Taylor took centre stage, claiming her first international goals. They found their last group opponents Holland to be the sternest task of all, but their comeback to claim a 1-1 draw clinched their place in the final. Aluko had been their scorer in that match after a mazy run past four Dutch defenders.
The tournament has not been without its downside for England though, as besides the sending off of Bonner against the Finns, the England captain Steph Houghton was also badly injured in the Australia game. She will be out of action for around ten weeks with a knee problem.
England begin their World Cup campaign in Canada on June 6th, with a Group F tie against France in Moncton.
There was further good news for women's #Football this week, with the news that the FA Women's Cup Final is to finally be played at Wembley Stadium, forty-four years after the first competition. The game will be played on Saturday 1st August. In an attempt to boost ticket sales and to fill out the vast stadium for the final, 'early-bird' tickets have been put on sale until 5th May at the comparatively low price of £10 for adults and £3 for children. Club attendances at women's matches often fail to reach beyond the 1,000 mark, although the final has attracted up to 25,000 in the past.