England won the Cyprus Cup with a deserved victory over Olympic bronze medallists Canada.
Rachel Yankey scored the winning goal with a neat half volley in the 70th minute but the Three Lions could have won by a greater margin, having created the better chances throughout.
Anita Asante and Eniola Aluko should have put their side ahead in the first half while Rachel Williams and Ellen White both had chances after the break.
Hope Powell’s side were on top for large spells against the three-time Cyprus Cup winners and this victory will give the National Coach a modicum of revenge after her Team GB side were knocked out of London 2012 by John Herdman’s charges.
England, winners of this competition in 2009, reached the Final by beating Italy and New Zealand in the group stage, either side of a 4-4 draw with Scotland.
The Canadians pressed high but it was the Three Lions who fashioned the better openings early on.
Firstly, White tested Erin McLeod at her near post and then an Aluko free-kick was deflected narrowly wide by the prolific Christine Sinclair, scorer of Canada’s second goal in that last eight clash at the Olympics.
A slick and intricate passing move down the left, caused by Canada’s energetic pressing high up the pitch, led to Yankey chipping the ball just over the bar.
Aluko had a good opportunity midway through the first half after White laid off Yankey’s cross, but the Chelsea forward shot wide from inside the box.
England had been the better side for the opening half an hour but a lapse in concentration at the back almost cost them. Alex Scott failed to reach goalkeeper Karen Bardsley’s slightly heavy pass, Sinclair picked up the loose ball and dinked it into the box, causing a lenghty scramble. The defence was unable to clear and were grateful to see Vonelle Filigno’s shot go over the bar.
The Three Lions quickly regained their composure and created the best chance of the half as Asante burst forward, played a one-two with Williams, but fired the return ball wildly over the bar when well placed.
Sinclair and Houghton then shot wide while Yankey had the final effort of the half, stinging McLeod’s hands with an effort from the edge of the box.
The beginning of the second half had less fluidity and a distinct lack of goal chances apart from a Fara Williams free-kick curling wide of McLeod’s far post.
However, half-time substitute Karen Carney, who had come on for Aluko, had to be replaced by Jess Clarke after picking up a knock and it took Clarke just ten minutes to make an impact as she set up England’s winning goal.
The Lincoln winger sent in a cross from the left which Canada failed to clear properly and Yankey snapped up the loose ball, crashing home a half-volley with her left foot from 12 yards.
Another substitute, Rachel Williams had a decent chance to double the lead when she collected Jordan Nobbs’s pass and bore down on goalĀ  but she thumped her shot just beyond the angle of post and bar.
Canada had a couple of sights on goal as Kaylyn Kyle almost slid in at the far post to convert an Ashley Lawrence cross-cum-shot and Lauren Sesselman was off target from just ten yards out.
But England held on to win the Cyprus Cup, which will no doubt give them confidence ahead of Euro 2013 in Sweden this summer.

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