Thu 13 Mar 2014
With the prestigious Algarve Cup and Cyprus Cup tournaments taking place simultaneously, there was competitive football on offer for four members of our squad in the heat of Portugal and Cyprus.
Goals for Aluko and Ji-So Yun
For the second successive year, England reached the final of the Cyprus Cup, an invitational tournament held annually, but unlike last year they did not emerge victorious following a 2-0 loss to France yesterday (Wednesday).
Both Laura Bassett and Eniola Aluko were named in new manager Mark Sampson's squad, and both featured off the bench in the Three Lions' first group game, a 2-0 success over Italy.
Taking on Finland next, Bassett started and skippered the side, playing the full 90 minutes of a comfortable 3-0 victory. Aluko also began the game and scored England's third goal, a cool dinked finish in the 72nd minute. She was replaced four minutes later.
There was no Chelsea involvement in the final group game, a 2-0 win which secured England's place in the final. In the showpiece encounter against longstanding rivals France Aluko came off the bench with over half an hour remaining and created England's best opportunity of the game, which unfortunately Jill Scott could not capitalise on.
Ji So-Yun played in all four of South Korea's games at the tournament, netting twice. Her equaliser in the first group game against Switzerland was a stunning volleyed effort from the edge of the box.
Having also netted an equaliser in the second group game against the Republic of Ireland, Ji So-Yun helped South Korea into a Third/Fourth place play-off at the tournament with a commanding display in a 4-0 victory over New Zealand.
A 1-1 draw against Scotland followed, but Ji So-Yun kept her cool in the shootout unlike three of the four Scots who stepped up to take a penalty, ensuring South Korea went home with the bronze medal.
Ogimi's Japan fall at final hurdle in Portugal
Yuki Ogimi was heavily involved as Japan reached the final of the Algarve Cup, eventually succumbing to Germany in a repeat of the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals yesterday.
Japan had reached that stage after victories over Denmark and Sweden and a draw with the United States in the group phase. It was Ogimi who restored parity in Japan's game with Sweden, levelling the score at 1-1 after outpacing a Swedish defender and finishing with aplomb.
The final in Faro was goalless at half-time, but three second-half German strikes were enough to ensure the reigning European champions lifted the Algarve Cup for the third time.
Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes was able to keep a close eye on Yuki Ogimi's progress as she provided co-commentary for Eurosport for some of the action in Portugal, and she had this to say about her players' involvement in the two international tournaments:
'The players who have played for their national teams did really well and most importantly for us, everyone returned with a clean bill of health. Katie Chapman, who wasn't involved in England, has been struggling with a calf injury but other than that we have a fully-fit squad. That's going to give us a selection headache, but a welcome one.'
Youngsters on duty too
Two of our younger squad players have also represented England recently, with both Drew Spence and Laura Coombs playing for the Three Lions' Under-23 side in a recent tournament in La Manga.
Coombs played 90 minutes of the first game, a 1-1 draw with Sweden, while in the second Spence, who came on for the final 10 minutes of that opening match, scored as England went down 4-2 to Germany. There was 20 minutes of action for Coombs in that defeat.