England Women 2-1 Mexico Women
- England move up to second in Group F
- Fran Kirby scores on first World Cup start
- Substitute Karen Carney nets the second
- England face Colombia in final game
England beat Mexico in their second match at the Women's World Cup to put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the last 16.
Fran Kirby, the 21-year-old striker who quit football four years ago after suffering from depression following the death of her mother, showed the composure England had been lacking in front of goal and poked home midway through the second half in her first start at a major tournament.
After losing their opening game against France, it was a crucial intervention for England as they had already wasted several chances.
As England relaxed they doubled the lead with Karen Carney's late header and although there was a late scare when Fabiola Ibarra took advantage of Karen Bardsley's mistake, Mark Sampson's side held on.
The victory means England are now equal on points with France, who were earlier beaten by Colombia.
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The South American side, who top Group F on four points, caused the shock of the tournament with a 2-0 win despite being ranked 28th in the world, 25 places below France.
A first World Cup win for Sampson was a huge relief after England struggled early on and it vindicated his decision to name Reading's Kirby - the only player to be selected from the second tier of the Women's Super League - in the squad.
A point in England's last game against Colombia should be enough to progress given that in four of the tournament's six groups, three teams will qualify for the second round.
Sampson said before the game his team would be more attacking than in the defeat by France and by naming Kirby and Toni Duggan alongside Eniola Aluko in attack, he kept to his promise - although up until Kirby's 72nd-minute opener England had struggled to keep their cool in front of goal.
Aluko came closest to scoring before the break when her angled shot hit the crossbar, while Duggan and Kirby also had chances but could not beat Mexican goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago.
Mexico are ranked 25th in the world, 19 places below England, and rarely troubled Bardsley, but she almost gifted them an opening goal.
The England keeper's kick hit Laura Bassett and fell to Renae Cuellar, but fortunately for Bardsley she recovered with a low save.
As the second half wore on England imposed themselves and they improved with the introduction of substitutes Alex Greenwood and Carney.
But it was Kirby who inspired England, steering a shot home from 10 yards for a poignant moment given her recent history.
Carney then took advantage of Greenwood's quality delivery and headed home eight minutes from the end.
England looked safe but Bardsley spilled a shot in stoppage time and Ibarra finished decisively to make it a nervous few final moments for Sampson's side.
England will also worry about an injury to Lucy Bronze, but at least they can look forward to facing Colombia next Wednesday in Montreal with points on the board.
- 12BronzeSubstituted forScottat 85'minutes
- 3RaffertySubstituted forGreenwoodat 53'minutes
- 8ScottSubstituted forCarneyat 66'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 4GarciamendezBooked at 64mins
- 15SierraSubstituted forMirandaat 45'minutes
- 11OcampoSubstituted forIbarraat 89'minutes
- 19CuellarSubstituted forSanchezat 77'minutes
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