March 6 – England triumphed in the SheBelieves Cup with a 3-0 trashing of 2015 World Cup runners-up Japan to win the tournament for a first time and lay down a marker for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in France.
Japan knocked out England in the last four of the 2015 World Cup en route to a silver medal, but were no match for England in Tampa. The English outclassed and rattled Japan with three goals inside the first 30 minutes as Lucy Staniforth, Karen Carney and Beth Mead scored to put the game out of Japan’s reach. Jodie Taylor provided two assists.
After the break England, who didn’t field their strongest team, failed to impose their game and build on their comprehensive lead as Japan showed more intensity and a flurry of substitutions in the England camp disrupted the game’s rhythm.
England’s win came off the back of a 2-1 win against Brazil and a 2-2 draw with hosts the United States and they topped the four-team round-robin competition on seven points ahead of the US (5 points), Japan (4 points) and Brazil (0 points). The SheBelieves Cup was first introduced in 2016 as an invitational tournament and in this year’s edition Brazil and Japan replaced Germany and France.
The win is a boost for the Lionesses who will play Japan again in the group stages of this summer’s World Cup in France. The fourth-ranked team in the world have also been paired with neighbours Scotland and Argentina in Group D. They kick off their campaign against Scotland in Nice on June 9.
“It was a sensational performance,” said England manager Phil Neville. “I wasn’t that bothered before the tournament whether we won or lost, I just wanted to see an improvement and we go home knowing we are definitely in the right direction.”
“We just keep listening to the USA, Japan and Brazil talk about how good we are. But we remain humble, have fun and enjoy moments like this. You don’t get many chances to get your hands on a trophy.”
“It is my first as a manager so I am just going to enjoy it,” added Neville. “It’s great for everybody but I think we have bigger things to aim for. We will enjoy it but tomorrow we will look forward to the April camp.”
Next month England will stage two friendlies, hosting Canada in Manchester before playing Spain in Swindon. The ‘Road to France Series’ will conclude with friendly fixtures against Denmark and New Zealand in May and June.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1553168883labto1553168883ofdlr1553168883owedi1553168883sni@o1553168883fni1553168883