Alex Morgan’s first-half header earned the USA a 1-0 victory over England Women on an entertaining evening at stadiummk.
In the highly-anticipated encounter, it was England who were the first to register a shot on goal in the 11th minute through the towering Jill Scott but her effort, 25-yards out, went well wide of the right-hand upright.
Christen Press then fired off target from the edge of the box after doing well to, first, close down an England defender before winning the ball off her and making room for an effort on goal.
The visitors continued to threaten and on 20 minutes they had the best chance of the opening exchanges when a loose ball fell to Morgan Brian inside the England box, however, her strong effort was quickly closed down and then blocked by Lionesses skipper Stephen Houghton.
USA did, though, take the lead soon after when striker Alex Morgan climbed highest to meet Lauren Holiday’s in-swinging cross and powered a header past Bardsley from 8-yards – the England keeper got a hand to the effort but couldn’t prevent it from nestling in the back of the net. 0-1
Their lead could have been doubled less than two minutes later but after Abby Wambach was tripped up on the edge of the England penalty area, Holiday failed to trouble Bardsley with a free-kick.
Bardsley was on hand to deny the USA once again in the closing periods of the first-half - getting down well to her right to save and hold Ali Krieger’s low effort – before England threatened through Fran Kirby, but her fizzing cross was well dealt with by Ashlyn Harris.
That half-chance brought an end to a first-half dominated by the visitors, who began the second half in the same direct and attacking fashion.
It was England, though, who were the first to threaten either goal following the re-start - Jodie Taylor sending a right-footed effort, from just inside the box, wide of the mark on 55 minutes.
The 14,369 crowd inside stadiummk were then up on their feet just 60 seconds later when England’s Taylor tapped home from close range after Fran Kirby had struck the crossbar. Their delight was short lived, however, as the lineswomen’s flag was quickly raised for offside.
On 75 minutes, Bardsley denied Morgan what would have been a stunning second goal – the USA striker did brilliantly to beat Alex Scott inside the box but she was then thwarted by a strong save.
Meanwhile, England continued to push for a late equaliser with Fara Williams coming closest to finding it with a fierce long-range effort in stoppage time which was well held by Harris.
In the end it just wasn’t to be for Mark Sampson’s side, who will now be looking to get back to winning ways when they face Finland in March.
England (4-4-2): Bardsley; Scott, Houghton (c), Bassett (Clarke 90), Stokes (Greenwood 69); Nobbs (Williams 81), Scott, Potter (Aluko 79), Carney; Taylor (Sanderson 81), Kirby.
Subs not used: Chamberlain (GK), Telford (GK), Bonner, Stoney, Chapman, Moore.
USA (4-4-2): Harris; Krieger, Engen, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg (Dunn 79); Press (O’Hara 90), Brian, Holiday, Lloyd; Morgan (Rodriguez 90), Wambach (c).
Subs not used: Naeher (GK), Boxx, O’Reilly, Johnstone, Chalupny, Heath, Van Hollebeke, Huster.
Goal: Morgan 25