With less than three months to go until the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™, England sent a clear message to their rivals. The Three Lionesses celebrated victory in the prestigious Cyprus Women’s Cup after defeating this summer’s hosts Canada 1-0 in the final. The world is also beginning to take notice of Leonardo Cuellar’s Mexico side, who gained further momentum with a 3-2 win over Italy in the match for third place.
A total of 12 teams, divided into three groups, were vying for the title in Cyprus. The competition gave World Cup participants England, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Korea Republic and the Netherlands a vital opportunity to continue their preparations for this summer’s showpiece event and assess their own strengths and weaknesses. FIFA.com brings you a round-up of events from the Mediterranean.
Canada demonstrated their lofty ambitions for their home World Cup, as three wins enabled coach John Herdman’s side to progress to the final. The North Americans followed a 2-0 victory against Scotland with a 1-0 win over Korea Republic, before defeating Italy by the same score.
After coming up short against the Netherlands in the qualifying play-offs for this year's Women’s World Cup, the Italians finished the group in second place behind Canada. Meanwhile, World Cup participants Korea Republic ended their campaign in last place without securing a win or a point along the way.
England sealed top spot and their place in the final with two wins and a draw. After getting matters underway with a 3-1 defeat of Finland, Mark Sampson’s charges recorded a 3-0 win over Australia and concluded the group stage by drawing 1-1 with the Netherlands.
The spot below England was ultimately occupied by Australia, ranked tenth in the world by FIFA. By defeating the Dutch 1-0 and getting the better of Finland 3-0, the Matildas completed the group phase with six points, while the Netherlands and the Nordic side took third and fourth places respectively.
Mexico, preparing for their third Women’s World Cup after USA 1999 and Germany 2011, left no stone unturned in their quest to top the group. After opening their campaign with a 2-0 defeat of South Africa, *El Tricolor *then secured a narrow 1-0 win over Czech Republic and a goalless draw with Belgium.
The Czech side finished second with three points fewer than their North American rivals, with South Africa occupying the spot directly beneath them after two defeats and a win. Belgium brought up the rear after two draws and a defeat.
Two old rivals, England and Canada, renewed acquaintances in the final, having previously met in the quarter-finals of the 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in London and in the final of the 2013 Cyprus Cup. Although the Canadians emerged victorious in London, the Three Lionesses had the upper hand when they last met in the Mediterranean. The match promised to be an exciting one, and so it transpired.
The teams were locked in a fascinating duel from the start, with both goalkeepers demonstrating their prowess on several occasions. Jill Scott tested Canadian keeper Erin McLeod in the opening minutes before Siobhan Chamberlain denied Christine Sinclair at the other end. Although Sinclair was at the heart of the Canadian attack throughout, she was unable to convert her chances. This profligacy came back to haunt the Canucks in the 67th minute, when Lianne Sanderson scored a long-awaited goal for England to ultimately seal her side's third Cyprus Women’s Cup win after previous triumphs in 2009 and 2013.
“Let’s not forget – Canada are a top, top nation and we beat them in a final,” England goalscorer Sanderson later told the English Football Association’s website. “So I think that does show that we can win against some big teams when it matters most. Mark [Sampson] has us preparing for every single game like it’s a cup final, and we know we have to do that in the World Cup.”
In the “small final” between Italy and Mexico, the Europeans looked on course for victory until the closing minutes. Valentina Cernoia (53’) and Alia Guagni (69’) gave their team the lead after Charlyn Corral opened the scoring for Mexico shortly before the break. The Italians maintained their advantage until the 86th minute, when El Tricolor began a remarkable turnaround. First Yamile Franco netted the equaliser, then Veronica Perez added another just a minute later to seal a sensational 3-2 win.
Finals Day in summer:
Match for 11th place: Korea Republic 1-1 Belgium (Korea Republic win 5-4 on penalties)
Match for 9th place: Finland 2-1 South Africa
Match for 7th place: Scotland 3-1 Netherlands
Match for 5th place: Australia 6-2 Czech Republic
Match for 3rd place: Italy 2-3 Mexico
Final: England 1-0 Canada