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By Emma Sanders
BBC Sport at Estadio do Bonfim, Portugal
England boss Phil Neville has praised two « outstanding » performances as the Lionesses followed up a narrow defeat by Brazil with victory against Portugal in a friendly.
Beth Mead’s late goal following a goalkeeper error ended a run of five games without a win for England.
« The players were determined to win and we got the luck we haven’t had in the last five games, » said Neville.
« The performances over the last two games have been outstanding. »
He added: « I’m pleased with the players, I’m pleased with the spirit, I’m pleased with the direction that we’re going in.
« And for me personally, in terms of what I’ve seen at this camp, it’s been my most enjoyable camp since I’ve been a manager with this England team. »
England sloppy but win Neville needed
On Saturday, England suffered a fourth defeat in five games when they were beaten 2-1 by Brazil with Neville saying the only thing missing from that performance was a « ruthlessness » in front of goal.
Against Portugal, Mead was in the right place at the right time to poke in from a yard out when Portugal keeper Patricia Morais fumbled Alex Greenwood’s cross.
Claudia Neta almost snatched a late equaliser when she hit the crossbar with a free-kick in stoppage time.
The ball bounced off the underside of the bar and down onto the line, allowing goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck to pounce on it before any Portugal player could react.
It was a sloppy performance from England in eerie surroundings in front of a sparse crowd, but it was the result Neville craved.
On Monday, he said he « did not feel vulnerable » over his position as manager despite his team failing to keep a clean sheet since the World Cup.
The first half display did little to ease the pressure – England gave the ball away on too many occasions and Portugal took advantage of spaces out wide.
Former Chelsea winger Ana Borges and Lyon’s Jessica Silva were a headache all half and the closest England came was when Mead’s cross flew inches in front of Beth England and Nikita Parris.
The second half was more positive – England pushed higher up the pitch and there was more urgency to get the ball into wide areas.
But they lacked creativity until, after an hour, Neville brought on Jordan Nobbs, who is continuing her comeback from a serious knee injury.
Her introduction, alongside striker Jodie Taylor, improved things for England, as Uefa Player of the Year Lucy Bronze returned to her natural right-back position having started in midfield.
Nobbs, Mead and Taylor all had chances to score before the costly mistake from the Portugal keeper while substitute Lauren Hemp looked positive when she came on.
But the issues that have stained England’s recent friendly defeats by Brazil and Norway, and the draw with Belgium, were still evident.
They will face an even tougher test when they host Germany, ranked second in the world, at Wembley on 9 November in front of an expected 80,000 crowd.
« We said before the game that a lot of people are saying this is a must-win game. For us every game is like that, every game we want to win, that’s the mentality of these players, » added Neville.
« There were some outstanding performances and I think we’ve seen one or two cement their place at Wembley. »