• England, Spain through after women’s Euro thrillers

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    DEVENTER, Netherlands: Toni Duggan and Nikita Parris gave England a 2-1 win over Portugal, sending the Lionesses to the women’s Euro quarterfinals alongside Spain who lost 1-0 to Scotland on Thursday (Friday in Manila).

    Duggan opened the score in Tilburg on seven minutes following a howler by Portuguese keeper Patricia Morais, who sent her clearance to the England striker and then watched as Duggan chipped the ball over her into the net.

    Carolina Mendes pulled Portugal level ten minutes later on a cutback from Diana Silva, but Parris then scored the decider just after half-time after a mazy run through the Portuguese defence and a shot under Morais.

    Portugal’s defender Carole Costa (left) vies with England’s forward Nikita Parris during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 football match between Portugal and England at Stadium Koning Willem II in Tilburg on Friday. AFP PHOTO

    In Deventer, Caroline Weir handed Euro newcomers Scotland their first-ever win at the tournament with a lone goal on 41 minutes.

    Weir robbed keeper Sandra Panos who had run out to collect a pass, then she outsprinted her and nutmegged a Spanish defender on the goal line.

    However, the win was not enough to give the Scots a quarterfinals spot.

    England, who started Wednesday’s game with a reserve team, topped Group D with three wins from as many games while Spain squeezed through to the quarterfinals on goal difference from their games against Portugal and Scotland with all three finishing on three points.

    England will take on France and Spain will face Austria on Sunday, while hosts the Netherlands will play against Sweden and holders Germany tackle Denmark a day earlier.

    Portugal were pushing for a goal that would have seen them through, but Mendes narrowly missed Silva’s cross in front of the goal in the first half, and England then held on to their lead comfortably.

    In a rare chance, Laura Luis sent her volley into keeper Siobhan Chamberlain in stoppage time.

    “We’ve gone and won a group with three wins against three difficult teams,” said England coach Mark Sampson.

    “We’ve scored ten and conceded one—nobody is anywhere near us, not even scored half of the goals that we got.”

    “We’re in a position where we wanted to be, we have momentum, confidence behind us. We’re in form.”

    Portugal coach Francisco Neto said his girls had left everything on the pitch in the last game of their first Euro.

    “I’m not happy with the result, but I’m very happy with the girls. England are one of the best teams in the world, but Portugal tonight, I think, deserved at least a draw.”

    Spain dominated possession against Scotland, and they could have taken the lead, but Scotland keeper Gemma Fay narrowly palmed out Marta Torrejon’s free kick on five minutes.

    Half an hour later, Fay dived superbly to save Jennifer Hermoso’s header before clearing Irene Paredes’s header onto the post in the same minute.

    Before halftime, Fay ran out and handled the ball outside the box, but Torrejon missed from the ensuing free kick.

    A second goal would have been enough for Scotland, but Leanne Crichton blasted her shot from seven meters over the bar and substitute Lana Clelland also sent a left-footer over.

    At the other end, Silvia Meseguer rattled the crossbar with a long-range effort and Scotland’s Ifeoma Dieke cleared the ball off the goal line after another superb save by Fay.

    “I’m very, very proud. We couldn’t have done more today,” said Scotland coach Anna Signeul, who is leaving after 12 years at the helm to take over Finland

    “Tonight was fantastic. They showed what we are all about.”

    Spanish coach Jorge Vilda said his team was “perhaps a little too nervous.”

    “In the second half we definitely improved our positioning and had great possession but we didn’t take our chances as well as I wanted.”

    AFP

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