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England v Belarus


England on the verge of qualifying for Canada.
First half goals from Eniola Aluko and Steph Houghton plus a stoppage time effort from Lucy Bronze saw England to a comfortable win against Belarus in Minsk and put the Lionesses potentially one win away from qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Canada.
England had already beaten Belarus 6-0 in the first match of the group and it was another comfortable win for England in this encounter. The host’s game plan was to get plenty of bodies behind the ball and frustrate England. The Lionesses created plenty of chances early on with Karen Carney at the centre of most of the good play that England created. England almost took the lead when a header from Natasha Dowie was cleared off the line and it started to look like it could be a frustrating afternoon for the visitors. The home sides’ resolve was finally broken in the 31st minute when Eniola Aluko burst into the box, outpaced the defence, and beat the keeper. On 36 minutes England made the game safe when they went 2 -0 up thanks to a well worked free kick routine. The freekick was on the left hand side of the Belarus box but instead of crossing it in the aerial way it was fired in low by Fara Williams who found Houghton at just inside the box who slotted her shot home.
After the second goal England were happy simply to control the game without going hunting for more goals with Thursday’s tough trip to Ukraine in mind. Although they took their foot off the gas they never remotely looked like losing. They added a third with the last action of the game when a corner was only partly cleared as far as Lucy Bronze who fired home her first international goal.
Wales, who currently sit in second place in Group 6, continued their good form with a 1-0 win at home to Turkey while Ukraine who are also still in the running for Canada 2015, thrashed Montenegro 7-0 to ensure they will go into the match against England full of confidence.
England however, are firmly in the driving seat to win the group. Qualification can be confirmed on Thursday night if England win in Ukraine and Wales fail to win in Belarus. If Wales win however England will need to take just 4 points from their remaining 3 matches (Ukraine, Wales, and Montenegro away) and with the way both sides are playing it looks set to be a show down in Wales in August to see who wins group 6.
Adam Barlow