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England end 2022 unbeaten but Norway fight to draw despite red card | Friendly matches

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The Lionesses capped off a successful year, ending 2022 unbeaten with a slightly frustrating 1-1 draw against Norway in southeastern Spain. Rachel Daly’s first-half goal was canceled out by Frida Maanum late at the end of the final international break.

It had been 127 days since those two sides last met on that memorable summer evening in Brighton. That day, Sarina Wiegman’s side gave Norway an 8-0 thrashing en route to victory in the European Championship.

The differences with that night were many. A breezy Pinatar stadium in Murcia was the setting, and although near capacity it was a stark contrast to recent crowds in England. Wiegman’s team has changed a lot both due to injury and taking the opportunity to lie down with some new faces. Fresh off of an impressive performance against Japan last week, their young players got their chance again. Five changes saw Maya Le Tissier make her senior debut and Lauren James start in midfield, while Daly was given a rare opportunity as a central striker.

Norway had won three of their last five games under new manager Hege Riise since the summer, most recently losing narrowly to France on Friday night. Riise made three changes from that game with Aurora Mikalsen receiving a start in goal while Emilie Haavi and Lisa Naalsund provided new legs. The Norwegians got off to the best start, quickly finding their bearings and moving forward with energy. Haavi immediately made an impression, finding space from time to time on the left side. She forced a smart save from Ellie Roebuck in the opening minutes before setting up Naalsund who fired into space.

England, on the other hand, dominated possession but struggled to make an impact in the final third. A combination of the wet surface and new faces was to blame, with the Lionesses needing to find their feet. They really settled in after one of James’ trademark runs saw their first shot on target. The Chelsea midfielder makes football easy and she glided past her marker with effortless skill before firing into Mikalsen’s gloves.

England looked in control from then on and opened the scoring through in-form Daly with half an hour on the clock. She gained altitude to head home another pinpoint delivery from Kelly, her ninth goal in an extraordinary season for club and country. She could have had two more just before the break, but the back of the net just slipped past her in the closing stages of the first half.

Rachel Daly walks away after opening the scoring.
Rachel Daly walks away after opening the scoring. Photography: Naomi Baker/The FA/Getty Images

Wiegman is not known for making any early substitutions but three came at the break, perhaps with a nod to the busy domestic schedule in the coming weeks. Georgia Stanway took the captain’s armband as she entered the fray alongside Katie Zelem and Esme Morgan.

The changes can cause disruption and Norway saw it as an opportunity to put pressure on a new Lionesses defensive line. Amalie Eikeland made Roebuck stretch to reverse a curling effort before the England keeper was watchful of Sophie Haug’s run as she broke through.

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Northern Ireland beat Italy in friendly

Spectacle

Sarah McFadden scored the winner as Northern Ireland secured an impressive 1-0 win over Italy in Belfast. The centre-back returned the ball from a corner to spark wild celebrations at Seaview, in the team’s first home game since their historic Euro 2022 campaign.

It was a deserved victory for the hosts, ranked 49th in the world, against opponents currently placed 35 places higher in 14th place. Italy’s Laura Giuliani was the busiest goalkeeper in the first half, with the visitors’ best chance coming to Manuela Giugliano, who fired into the side netting.

Kenny Shiels’ side continued to push forward in the second half with substitute Joely Andrews forcing Giuliani into two fine saves. The second resulted in a corner shot towards goal by Emily Wilson. Giuliani saved, but McFadden was there to score on the rebound.

Jackie Burns then made a brilliant save to deny Beatrice Merlo’s header at the other end, while Caitlan McGuinness saw a late effort clear of the line as Northern Ireland held firm. goalkeeper sport

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This England team, however, can activate the flair in an instant. Kelly’s deliveries from the left have been outstanding this international break and she’s produced two more that only required a crimson shirt to end it. They were also helped by the departure of Anja Sønstevold in the 73rd minute, ordered by Zuzana Valentova for two yellow cards against Nikita Parris.

Despite their low numbers, however, Norway were in no mood to throw in the towel and provided a late shock. Arsenal’s impressive midfielder Frida Maanum took advantage of a complete misjudgment by Roebuck minutes after coming on, firing into an empty net after the England keeper swung into the fresh air with an attempt to clear.

England put the pressure on again with Katie Robinson providing new legs in attack as she turned another to win her first senior cap. Despite their dominance on the ball, however, they couldn’t create a clean chance and had to settle for a draw to end their year.

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