Twice-taken penalty kick lifts lack-of-scoring England in 1-0 win over Haiti

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England coach Sarina Wiegman says her squad are missing the ruthlessness needed to score goals, a troubling tendency that reared its ugly head in a 1-0 victory over minnows Haiti at the Women’s World Cup on Saturday.

Georgia Stanway’s penalty kick was the game’s only goal, stretching the Lionesses’ lack of a goal from open play to more than three games.

Haiti coach Nicolas Delepine had said a day earlier when asked about England’s weakness that they struggled in front of goal. There was no argument from Wiegman.

“I would say ruthlessness,” Wiegman told a press conference. “Well, it’s easy to say, ruthlessness.

“Sometimes it’s the connection with the cross, the timing of the cross, where the cross actually ends in the penalty box, then the connection in front of the goal, little things like that, that at the end you hope goes in.”

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England misfired numerous times on Saturday, denied both by Haiti’s keeper Kerly Theus and their own timing and aim.

“We were very close a couple of times to scoring a goal and then of course, their defence was tough too,” Wiegman said. “So, we just keep trying, keep working on it.”

Haiti were a revelation in front of largely pro-England crowd of 44,369, playing far better than their 53rd ranking. They gave England fits all night, particularly Melchie Dumornay, a 19-year-old who plays for Lyon.

Dumornay fired a fierce right-footed shot that Mary Earps was forced to save early in the second half, and attempted a bicycle kick that, had it hit its mark, would surely have been a stunning finish.

“I can say if we do that against England we can do anything against anyone,” Dumornay told reporters.

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Wiegman credited Haiti, making their World Cup debut, with playing a “very good game, too”.

“As we expected, unpredictable, very direct, very strong in their counter-attack,” the Dutch coach said. “They were really quick and very athletic, and we had to play the ball quicker to stay out of the duels, because there were physical too.

“I think the other two countries are going to really struggle with them. But of course, that’s not our problem. I’m just really happy that we got the win, and we have the first three points in a very hard game.”

England’s scoring drought comes despite their record 80 goals in World Cup qualifying. Ella Toone is the last player to have scored from open play, back on April 7 against Brazil in the Finalissima at Wembley.

Stanway said the victory was what counted.

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“It’s so important when you get going in the tournament,” the midfielder said. “It’s been a long buildup to today and I think we’re kind of happy to just get over the line.

“They caused us problems, they were threatening on the counter-attack, they were fast and they were physical. And, yeah, they challenged us in areas that we probably didn’t really expect.”

The Lionesses play Denmark on July 28, then China on Aug. 1.

-Reuters

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