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Thursday, September 23, 2010
GB Women faced Portugal on their return to Liverpool, scene of one of their greatest victories nearly a year ago to the day when they beat Finland in the 2010 European Championship pre-qualifier, but couldn’t repeat that result or their summer 26-18 friendly victory over the Portuguese here tonight.
Portugal opened the scoring from the penalty spot within a minute of the match starting, but GB left-wing Holly Lam-Moores quickly equalised in front of a passionate, partisan crowd.
However, Portugal proved to be quicker out of the blocks and lead by their centre-back Claudia Correia, who top-scored in the game with eight, they quickly built a 5-2 lead before stretching it to four as left-back Rita Alves started to get in to the game and with just over 12 minutes gone on the clock GB found themselves 8-4 down.
But the GB fighting spirit soon shone through and goals from Marie Gerbron, Ewa Palies and GB captain Lynn McCafferty, saw the home side back in contention at 7-9 with less than 10 minutes left of the half.
GB Coach Jesper Holmris then called a time out where he delivered a passionate war cry which saw his side step up their efforts, defending solidly and strikes from Gerbron, Lam-Moores, McCafferty and finally Fudge, following fantastic recovery work from Lam-Moores, who put her side 12-11 up going into the break.
Britt Goodwin extended the lead to two for GB early on in the second period, but the half-time break had come at the wrong time for GB as Portugal powered back, scoring six of the next seven goals to find themselves 17-14 up with 20 minutes left. A two-minute penalty for Portuguese pivot Bebiana Sabino soon after allowed GB to bring the score within one through Gerbron and Lyn Byl who were backed-up by strong goalkeeping from Sarah Hargreaves which lifted the crowd who sensed victory.
Holmris then switched tactics, bringing on Louise Jukes for Hargreaves on a number of occasions, pushing for the equaliser but was frustrated by missed chances and the Portuguese defence.
With three minutes left on the clock Lam-Moores brought the scores to within two at 21-23 and as GB applied the pressure everyone watching held their breath as a great double save from Hargreaves and a strike from Yvonne Leuthold, who made it 22-23 with 21 seconds remaining, saw GB close to drawing even.
However there simply wasn’t enough time on the clock and as the full-time buzzer sounded the Portuguese celebrated their narrow victory.
GB top scorers: Palies 4, Gerbron 4
Portugal top scorer: Claudia Correia 8
Report by Andrew McSteen
Pictures by Michele Davison