With both sides desperate for three points entering Saturday afternoon’s second group stage matchup at Moncton Stadium, it was two 21-year-olds that made the difference as England defeated Mexico, 2-1.
Forward Fran Kirby broke the deadlock in the 71st minute with a toe poke finish after using some skillful touches to evade several Mexican defenders before substitute Alex Greenwood provided the assist on the second 12 minutes later to forward Karen Carney.
The result seemed all but decided until substitute forward Fabiola Ibarra tucked away a rebound off a shot from Charlyn Corral in stoppage time, but the rebuttal proved too little too late. The loss likely ends Mexico’s Knockout stage hopes with El Tri Femenil needing a win over World Cup favorites France in their final group game.
It was a disappointing finish to a promising start for Mexico, which started the game outshooting England, 7-0, and had the support of a pro-Mexico crowd.
The sixth-best team in the world eventually imposed its will on the game, however, with a front three of Kirby, Toni Duggan and Eniola Aluko giving Mexico fits on the backline.
Kirby opened the scoring chances for England in the 21st minute off a nice ball across the 18-yard box from midfielder Jill Scott but the Reading F.C. star failed to generate any power on her shot.
Twelve minutes later, it was Duggan’s turn to have a strike on goal but her near post shot blazed wide of the near post before a long-range effort from Aluko struck the crossbar to close out the half.
The momentum gained entering the break was almost lost when a scuffed clearance from goalkeeper Karen Bardsley forced the keeper into a desperation save in the opening two minutes of the second half.
Six minutes later, the Three Lionesses were dealt another blow when defender Claire Rafferty hobbled off with an injury with the 21-year-old Greenwood forced to take her place.
With England weakened, Mexico nearly found the breakthrough in similar fashion to its goal against Colombia when midfielder Monica Ocampo’s corner kick curled and struck the crossbar.
Having survived that scare Kirby finally found the breakthrough to end England’s goal scoring drought. But unlike Mexico did in its first game, the Three Lionesses seemed determined to see a second ball find the back of the net.
That determination paid off in the 82nd minute after a left-footed cross from Greenwood set up by Duggan down the left flank found Carney lurking in the box for the header goal.
The win moves England up to second in Group F after it’s disappointing opening loss to France while Mexico sits at the bottom of the table with one point.
The Three Lionesses will next take on a confident Columbia side June 17 at Olympic Stadium while El Tri Femenil must face an agitated French team at Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa.
England (1-0-1; 3 points) vs. Mexico (0-1-1; 1 points)
June 13, 2015 — Moncton Stadium, New Brunswick, Canada
Scoring by Period 1 2 F
England 0 2 2
Mexico 0 1 1
ENG: Francesca Kirby – 71’
ENG: Karen Carney – 82’
MEX: Fabiola Ibarra – 90 +1’
MEX: Alina Garciamendez (yellow card) 64’
ENG: Karen Carney (yellow card) 90+3’
ENG: Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze (Alex Scott, 85’), Claire Rafferty (Alex Greenwood, 53’), Stephanie Houghton (C), Laura Bassett, Fara Williams, Jill Scott (Karen Carney, 66’), Jade Moore, Francesca Kirby, Eniola Aluko, Toni Duggan
MEX: Cecilia Santiago, Kenti Robles, Jennifer Ruiz, Alina Garciamendez, Bianca Sierra (Valeria Miranda, 45’), Nayeli Rangel (C), Stephany Mayor, Monica Ocampo (Fabiola Ibarra, 89’), Veronica Perez, Charlyn Corral, Renae Cuellar (Sanchez Martinez Mariano, 77’)