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Ertz goal lifts US women to 1-0 win over Spain

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New York (AFP)

Julie Ertz headed in a last-gasp goal in the 87th minute Sunday to lift the World Cup champion United States to a 1-0 victory over feisty Spain in the SheBelieves women's friendly football tournament.

The United States, who ousted Spain in the round of 16 on the way to the World Cup title last year, had to battle to break through against a technically sound Spanish side that controlled possession for much of the first half.

Spanish goalkeeper Sandra Panos delivered a strong performance, pushing a shot from US star Megan Rapinoe over the crossbar in the 32nd and diving to save a long-range blast from Samantha Mewis in the 60th.

Just when it looked as if the Americans might be held without a goal, a set-piece gave them an opportunity.

Christen Press's free kick from the left found a charging Ertz, who rose to head the ball past Panos, who got a hand on the ball but couldn't stop it.

The match was played before a sellout crowd of 26,500 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, one year to the day after 28 US women internationals sued US Soccer over pay inequality.

US federation president Carlos Cordeiro had released an open letter on Saturday night in which he said federation officials "strongly believe" they have addressed the women's concerns and offered to provide "identical compensation" to the women's and men's teams for matches controlled by US Soccer.

He said $66 million sought by the women players in the lawsuit -- scheduled to go to trial in May -- represents a difference in prize money from FIFA in the men's and women's World Cups, which the national federation can't be expected to make up.

Molly Levinson, a spokesman for the players suing, quickly refuted Cordeiro's claims, saying the federation "did not and has never offered equal pay to the women players."

Levinson also took a dig at the timing of Cordeiro's letter in the midst of the tournament, which she noted the federation says "celebrates the hopes and dreams of women and girls."

- White strikes -

In the opening match of the day's double-header, Ellen White's late strike was enough to lift England to a 1-0 victory over Japan.

Against a Japan side they beat convincingly at last year's World Cup, England bounced back from their 2-0 loss to the United States on Thursday.

Japan, surprised 3-1 by Spain in their opener, remain in search of their first win of the round-robin tournament, which concludes on Wednesday in Frisco, Texas, where the United States will face Japan and England will take on Spain.

The Lionesses will be relieved to have come away with a victory after a multitude of squandered opportunities before White's 83rd-minute goal.

England seized upon a defensive error by Japan, with a sloppy pass allowed Toni Duggan to gain the ball and cross into the box for White to tap in.

Manchester City striker White and Duggan were among the multiple second-half substitutions by England manager Phil Neville.

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