The Cyprus Women's Cup began on Wednesday with matches that brought together the four competing UEFA Women's EURO 2013 finalists – and some new names stated their cases for places in Sweden come July.
In Larnaca, Finland drew 1-1 with the Netherlands, Sanna Talonen's opener being cancelled out late on by Daniëlle van de Donk as Kim Dolstra made her debut. Over in Nicosia, England's 4-2 win against Italy was sparked by an early strike from Jordan Nobbs on her senior bow.
Finland went into their first fixture reeling from the recurrence of Linda Sällström's anterior cruciate ligament injury in training on Monday, which rules their top scorer out of the summer finals. Leading the line in her stead, Talonen produced a subtle finish late in the first half to break the deadlock, though substitute Van de Donk struck from close range with eight minutes left. In the earlier Group B game, Switzerland lost 2-0 to Canada despite a lively passing display.
Netherlands coach Roger Reijners, whose team play Switzerland on Friday, told UEFA.com: "It was a draw, but we had more chances over the 90 minutes. [Dolstra] did well on her debut. These are a very important 12 days together. We can train, we have very good facilities and we can develop the whole team."
His opposite number Andrée Jeglertz said: "For 75 minutes we controlled the game in defence – we defended very well, they weren't creating many chances and we had good transitional opportunities. In the first half we had good attacks too. They had more of the ball than us but we know we are not here to play possession football. Then, for the last 15 minutes, they created a bit too much against us and we need to solve that. But in general it was a pretty good start to the tournament."
For England in Group A, Arsenal LFC midfielder Nobbs dispatched a superb finish from distance on seven minutes. Although Elisa Camporese swiftly scored twice, Stephanie Houghton and Jessica Clarke made it 3-2 at the interval and substitute Ellen White added a late fourth. England manager Hope Powell, who said Nobbs played "very, very well", added: "It's nice to get off to a good start and the manner in which we played was really pleasing. They played the way we asked them, and it worked. Everybody was on their game."
On Friday her side face Scotland, who lost 1-0 to New Zealand, the next opponents for Antonio Cabrini's Italy. The Azzurre coach said: "We met a good team, but this defeat was also down to us making some silly mistakes."
Both groups conclude on Monday, with the positional matches, including the final between the winners of each pool, taking place two days later.
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