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In an evenly contested game, it was Christine Sinclair’s tap-in from a rebound which made the difference as the Lionesses kicked off their ‘Road to France’ series in defeat.
England matched their opponents throughout, with Nikita Parris looking a particular threat, but it was to no avail as Phil Neville’s side were edged out in front of a packed Academy Stadium crowd.
There were starts for seven City players with Karen Bardsley in goal for England, screened by a back four including Steph Houghton, Abbie McManus and Stokes.
Keira Walsh sat in front of the defence with Parris on the right wing, while Janine Beckie lined up for her native Canada out wide.
Both sides began the game seemingly content to try and suss out their opponents rather than commit too greatly going forward.
Nonetheless, Parris was an exception to this rule, taking on Canada’s left-back, Allysha Chapman, at any opportunity from the off.
Beckie also offered a threat at the other end, however, with her inviting 22nd minute cross causing a stir in the England defence before a timely block by Houghton.
The Lionesses edged the final moments of a cagey first-half with their best chance falling to Parris who, after being played through by Jodie Taylor, cleverly cut back to give herself space to get a shot off.
Her well-placed effort across goal towards the bottom right corner, however, was well saved.
Both teams were quick out of the blocks in the second half, with Beckie’s powerful drive on the edge of the box looking destined to open the scoring on 50 minutes.
However, Bardsley was on hand to thwart her City teammate, acrobatically tipping the ball around the post.
Jill Scott entered the fray with 20 minutes to go and was immediately in the thick of the action, marshaling the midfield with Walsh.
Yet, with ten minutes to go, it was the visitors who stole it when a lobbed effort onto the crossbar rebounded to Sinclair, leaving the Canada captain with a simple six-yard finish.
Georgia Stanway entered the fray to add inspiration to the attack, much to the delight of the buoyant Academy Stadium crowd, but Phil Neville’s side failed to find a way back into the game.
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