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England fightback placates Powell

England manager Hope Powell was relieved her side put a "shocking" first-half display behind them to claw back a two-goal deficit against Spain and maintain top spot in Group 5.

Spain goalscorer Adriana dribbles by Karen Carney in their FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier
Spain goalscorer Adriana dribbles by Karen Carney in their FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier ©Julio Calvo

Despite watching her England side fight back to earn a 2-2 draw which puts them on the brink of a FIFA Women's World Cup play-off place, manager Hope Powell admitted the team's "shocking" first-half display nearly handed Spain the initiative in Group 5.

Pool pacesetters England went into the game in the box seat against their nearest pursuers Spain, but it was the hosts who dominated the opening 45 minutes in Aranda de Duero. Adriana's 16th-minute effort had given Spain a well-deserved lead at the break and although there was a marked improvement in England's display after the interval, Sonia made it two midway through the second period.

The fightback started when Rachel Unitt's deep cross looped over Spain goalkeeper Ainhoa Tirapu in the 78th minute and captain Faye White then levelled matters late on, prodding in from inside the area. "If you can play as badly as we did in the first half and still come out with a result though, I'll take it – but I'm not happy with the overall performance," Powell said.

England now need just one win from their remaining two qualifiers, against Turkey and Austria, to seal a World Cup play-off berth and Powell added: "In the first half we were shocking. The players would agree. You put yourself on the back foot when you perform like that and then you've got to claw your way out."

A 2-0 win for Spain would have left them only needing to beat Malta at home in their last game to pip England to top spot in the section and Powell acknowledged her side's performance was much improved after the restart. "The second half we came out with a bit more fight. I think [half-time substitute] Jill Scott made a massive difference. Ellen White chased absolutely everything down and it just gave us that little bit of impetus but the goals were lucky. I'm pleased with their application and attitude in the second half."