Manchester City forward Lauren Hemp was bizarrely sent off as England fell to a 1-0 defeat to Spain in a UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship group match in Stirling this afternoon.
The Lionesses started the tournament with a 2-1 defeat to Germany on Tuesday evening and it was a case of fine margins again as they narrowly lost their second group match against Spain at the Forthbank Stadium in Stirling.
Spain had a chance to open the scoring early on when England defender Georgia Eaton-Collins had surrendered possession cheaply but Olga Carmona could only fire wide across goal.
England then created a chance of their own from a similar situation at the other end. An attempted Spanish clearance hit Aimee Palmer and she played in teammate Lauren James. The Manchester United midfielder looked to have beaten off the opposing defence but she failed to direct her shot on target.
The Lionesses were made to rue that miss midway through the half when they were caught out by a swift Spanish counter attack. Eva Navarro crossed a ball from the right and her delivery found Carmona who bundled in after popping up in space at the back post.
The lively Jessica Naz almost had England back in it just after the half-hour mark but her dangerous ball across the box was diverted behind by Laia Aleixandri before Claudia Pina drilled in a similar ball at the other end but Carmona failed to get the necessary connection to trouble Hannah Hampton in the Lionesses goal.
The second half produced little in the way of clear cut chances as both goalkeepers remained relatively untroubled. England substitutes Ella Rutherford and Ebony Salmon combined well to carve out a chance but Spanish defender Berta Pujadas got her body in the way to block the shot.
That was as close as either side came to scoring a goal with the referee producing the only remaining drama in the game. Candela Andujar battled for a ball with Lauren Hemp and took what seemed to be an accidental blow in the abdomen in the process. After some careful deliberation, match referee Elvira Nurmustafina showed Hemp a yellow card. The Manchester City forward then marched towards the tunnel before being summoned back by the Kazakhstani official who brandished what looked to be a straight red card. Some members of the crowd thought that the sending-off was for dissent, however, the referee did not appear to show a second yellow.
England went on to lose the match 1-0 and are now likely to be playing for pride when they take on Belgium in Perth on Monday.