By Richard Morgan
Football journalist - @Richiereds1976
Portugal Women 0-1 England Women: Beth Mead hands Lionesses much-needed win
Horror error from Portugal 'keeper hands England first win in six
Last Updated: 08/10/19 11:16pm
England Women recorded a first win in six matches as they overcame Portugal 1-0 in Setubal thanks to Beth Mead's second-half strike.
The Lionesses entered the match at the Estadio do Bonfim in urgent need of a victory to ease the pressure on under-fire manager Phil Neville, who had not seen his side win since they beat Norway in the World Cup quarter-finals in June.
Portugal: Morais (6), Fidalgo (6), Rebelo (6), Costa (6), Amaral Mendes (7), Marques (6), Jacome Silva (7), Pinto (7), Borges (8), Coruche Mendes (6), Nogueira Silva (6)
Subs: Gomes (6), Neto (7), Norton (6), Pinto (7)
England: Roebuck (7), Daly (7), Houghton (7), Williamson (7), Greenwood (7), Bronze (9), Walsh (6), Parris (6), Staniforth (7), Mead (7), England (7)
Subs: Taylor (7), Lawley (6), Hemp (7), Nobbs (7)
Player of the match: Lucy Bronze
However, despite dominating large parts of the clash in Setubal, they had to wait until 18 minutes from time to make the breakthrough, and even then their winner was the result of a dreadful mistake from Portugal No 1 Patricia Morais.
The visitors held on, though, despite Portugal - ranked No 31 in the world - coming desperately close to a last-minute equaliser when Claudia Neto's free kick hit the bar, much to Neville's huge relief.
How Mead got Lionesses back to winning ways
England arrived in Portugal on the back of four defeats and a draw in their five previous matches - the last time they went five games without a win was in 2013, when Hope Powell got the sack.
So all eyes were on the visitors, and the under-pressure Neville in particular, with the manager responding to Saturday's 2-1 home loss to Brazil by making four changes.
In came Ellie Roebuck in goal, Rachel Daly, Lucy Staniforth and Beth England, their goalscorer at the Riverside, not that the changes had much impact in a disjointed and error-strewn first half.
Neville made four changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Brazil on Saturday. There was a first start for Chelsea striker Beth England, who netted at the Riverside, while the likes of Ellie Roebuck, Rachel Daly and Lucy Staniforth also got the nod.
The closest either team came to scoring came in in first-half stoppage time, only for Monica Mendes' goal-line clearance to prevent Nikita Parris from tapping in from close range.
But the Lionesses moved up a gear in the second period, especially after the introductions of Jordan Nobbs and Jodie Taylor, who both almost scored within seconds of coming on midway through the second half.
When England did finally get the goal their pressure merited, it owed much to an awful handling error from Morais. The goalkeeper somehow failed to gather Alex Greenwood's harmless cross from the left, inexplicably dropping the ball straight at Mead's feet, leaving the Arsenal forward with surely the easiest goal of her entire career.
England still had to survive one late scare, however, when Neto's injury-time free kick from the edge of the area looped over the wall and on to the bar, only to incredibly stay out of the net, despite hitting the unaware Ellie Roebuck on the back.
What the England manager said...
Phil Neville: "It gives me great pride to see the way they played tonight. They had to have great patience and control. There were times when they used gamesmanship and they were diving around and maybe for a five-minute period in the first half, we lost emotional control because we started to complain to the referee.
"But there is a real togetherness in there, it is another game where we should have won by three or four goals and the goal was unlucky for their 'keeper, who you feel sorry for. But we take it."
Player of the Match - Lucy Bronze
The Lyon star demonstrated once again why she was crowned the Uefa Women's Player of the Year for 2018-19 with another assured and composed display to help her country get back to winning ways in Setubal.
The versatile 27-year-old - recognised as one of the best right backs in the world - actually started this contest in midfield as Neville looked to experiment.
And Bronze did not look out of place either, controlling the temp of the game, before switching back to her more familiar role in defence for the closing stages.
Rachel Yankey (England 1997-2013)
"Neville will look at this as a learning curve for the players and himself. He has seen what his players can do.
"I think they played better in the last 10-15 minutes, they had loads of energy and tempo once they had got a goal. They then looked more relaxed and as if they wanted to go for the second and kill Portugal off.
"But equally in saying that, Portugal were attacking them to try and get a goal back, so it opened up the game a bit more.
"But England win and it is a win."
Neville's side take on Germany in a friendly international at Wembley on Saturday November 9, with the game kicking off at 5.30pm.