England women: Eni Aluko scores to set up final with Canada

By Tony LeightonWomen's football reporter
Aluko scores wonder goal for England

England will meet Canada in Wednesday's Cyprus Cup final despite losing their 100% group record in a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands.

Mark Sampson's team had to come from behind to remain unbeaten after striker Anna Miedema gave the Dutch an 18th-minute lead.

A wonderful solo goal by Chelsea's Eni Aluko levelled the scores four minutes before half-time.

"Eni's goal was just fantastic," England head coach Mark Sampson said.

"You've got to be a special player to score a goal out of nothing and that's what she did.

England v Netherlands
England goalscorer Eni Aluko in action against the Netherlands

"It was a difficult game for her against a team that dominates the ball.

"She had to be patient and she didn't get many opportunities, but she scored when the team needed it and it was a very important moment for us."

On the team's display, Sampson said: "Overall I thought it was a pleasing team performance.

"We had to stay in the game at times, but we grew into it and in the last 15 minutes we were pushing for the winning goal."

Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, captain for the first time, was beaten when Miedema scored from close range after midfielder Danielle van de Donk had carved open the defence.

As England hit back midfielder Jo Potter was denied a 25th-minute equaliser when her 20-yard volley was brilliantly saved by the diving Loes Geurts.

The Netherlands might have stretched their lead in the 39th minute, Van de Donk just failing to reach left winger Lieke Martens's excellent cross.

But two minutes later Aluko, collecting the ball midway in the Dutch half, went on a diagonal run that took her past four defenders before curling a 10-yard shot past Geurts.

It was the striker's 32nd international goal, 19 of them coming in her last in 27 appearances.

Neither goal was put under serious pressure in the second half until left-back Demi Stokes's 79th-minute drive forced Geurts into a goal line save.

There was further England pressure in the closing stages but they were unable to produce a winning goal.

England will now meet Canada in the final after the Canadians beat Italy 1-0 to complete their three-match Group A programme with a 100% record.

It will be the third time that England and Canada have clashed in the Cyprus final, England lifting the trophy with a 3-1 win in 2009 before winning 1-0 in 2013.

Sampson's team also reached last year's final but lost 2-0 to France.

"We underperformed in last year's final," added Sampson.

"We want to redress the balance and get our hands on that cup again.

"We'll have to be at our best to beat a very good Canada team, but this (England) team should be confident of beating anyone."

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