The men may have had the summer off to relax, but England's Ladies team are already back in action and last night faced world champions Germany (above) in a friendly. Alex Stone of the Football Association sent us this report:
Germany concluded their Olympic preparations with a comfortable 3-0 victory over England in front of a vocal crowd of 9,185 at the Sportpark Unterhaching last night. England started confidently and after a short passing move on ten minutes, only the last-gasp intervention of Ariane Hingst - making her 150th appearance for Germany - stopped Arsenal's Karen Carney getting in on goal.
After quarter of an hour though goalkeeper Rachel Brown was left holding her head in despair, as Germany took the lead. A hopeful punt forward by right back Kerstin Stegemann saw the England backline looking to the assistant referee for offside but the flag stayed down. Brown - in her first game since the Euro 2009 qualifier at home to Spain in November 2007 - raced off her line but 30 yards out airkicked, leaving Sandra Smisek the simple task of rolling the ball into the net for her 33rd international goal.
England heads didn't go down though, and Gunners forward Kelly Smith put a shot wide after a neat passing move, with England's players involved in regular positional changes. However the home side came close to doubling their lead on 37 minutes. The ever dangerous Birgit Prinz can almost 'disappear' for periods of the game, but after holding off the challenge of Chelsea's new recruit, Anita Asante, the muscular striker just dragged her shot inches wide of Rachel Brown's far post.
Photo of Germany's Ladies team via teliko82's Flickr stream.
At half-time Germany made three changes and ten minutes into the second half they extended their lead. Unsurprisingly it was Birgit Prinz who did the damage. Simone Laudehr sold Jill Scott a dummy on the right side of England's penalty area and floated a left footed cross that Prinz dispatched from six yards, rising between Arsenal colleagues Faye White and Alex Scott.
On the hour England coach Hope Powell made two changes. Lindsay Johnson came on for Alex Scott, whilst Emily Westwood moved into central defence, with Anita Asante moving into midfield and Kelly Smith replacing Chelsea's other new star, Lianne Sanderson, in the centre forward role. However Germany went further ahead in the 70th minute. Faye White was dispossessed 30 yards from goal by Prinz and as the England skipper battled to atone for her error, Prinz tumbled and the referee pointed to the spot.
After a delay for three more substitutions, another half-time replacement Melanie Behringer stepped up to blast her penalty beyond Rachel Brown to make it 3-0. Germany continued to hold the ascendancy in the final period and despite some slick interplay couldn't add to their lead. On this performance, the reigning world and european champions will be highly fancied to add the Olympic crown to their trophy cabinet.
England: Rachel Brown, Alex Scott (Lindsay Johnson), Casey Stoney, Fara Williams,
Faye White (c), Anita Asante, Karen Carney (Sue Smith, 77mins), Jill Scott, Lianne
Sanderson (Emily Westwood, 61mins), Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey