England and Mexico traded first-half goals to open their 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ with an entertaining 1-1 draw in Wolfsburg. The match was played at high-tempo in warm summer conditions in front of a buoyant crowd at the Arena Im Allerpark.
Although England had by far the better of the first half, it was Mexico who had a golden early opportunity but star striker Maribel Dominguez showed uncharateristic hesitancy in allowing herself to be closed down. The English then took the game to their opponents with a Kelly Smith snapshot from 20 metres going just wide of Cecilia Santiago’s left post.
England’s dominance was rewarded on 21 minutes with Karen Carney’s corner from the right headed home powerfully by Fara Williams from near the penalty spot.
England creator Kelly Smith then set up Rachel Yankey for a fierce near post shot from 22 metres, which was pushed away by Cecilia Santiago. Hope Powell’s team remained on top until a game-changing moment from Monica Ocampo who scored against the run of play.
The Atlanta Beat forward hit a remarkable swerving strike from 30 metres into the top right of the goal to restore parity, with what will likely be one of the goals of the tournament.
The momentum of the match immediately changed, although England replied within seconds as Eniola Aluko’s shot deflected wide from the edge of the penalty area.
The second half commenced just as the first half concluded; with two evenly matched teams playing at good intensity. Mexico’s Dominguez soon came close to giving El Tri the lead with her fierce free-kick from 20 metres flying just past the post.
England then had a great chance but Aluko was unable to make a snap connection with a ball headed back across goal from a Yankey right sided cross. Smith then set up Aluko but she stabbed her shot wide from 16 metres.
Mexico had to make do without the talismanic Dominguez for the last quarter hour after she had gone down for treatment ten minutes earlier.
The intensity dropped from time to time in the latter stages although there was still a near miss as Ocampo hit a smart left-foot curling free-kick just wide.
Player of the match: Monica Ocampo