Wednesday 21 August 2019

Stylish England survive Scots scare to get campaign off to winning start

England Women 2 Scotland Women 1

England's Beth Mead. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire
England's Beth Mead. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

Katie Whyatt

From a surprise penalty scorer in Jordan Pickford to a more conventional one here.

The figure of a darting Nikita Parris, forehead gleaming in the oppressive Nice heat, leaping in celebration following her first World Cup goal, embodied England's slick, impressive opening performance. They ultimately saw off an inferior Scotland side with very little strain.

Much consternation followed their send-off at Brighton. However, the fear of an injury to Millie Bright - replaced by Abbie McManus after the Chelsea centre-back landed awkwardly on her shoulder - is, realistically, the only worry that will dominate Phil Neville's thoughts.

This clash was an unfair balance of resources. England's best two players - Parris and Lucy Bronze - play for the richest women's team in the world in Lyon.

Of Scotland's final 23, seven are usually part-time players. They have had government funding for the past six months to enable them to replicate full-time training. Full-back Nicola Docherty balances football with a career as a full-time dementia carer.

The attendance was a worry, bearing in mind both the FA and Fifa were confident of a sell-out as late as Tuesday.

England's Beth Mead in action with Scotland's Kim Little. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters
England's Beth Mead in action with Scotland's Kim Little. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Complete

The Stade de Nice is only a short hop from the UK, so Neville might well be disappoined that one of England's most complete performances under his watch was played out to a backdrop of empty seats and an eventual crowd - 13,188 - 4,000 shy of the attendance for Brazil v Jamaica.

England juddered through the gears before the moment Fran Kirby's cross smacked against the outstretched arm of Docherty inside the area. After the referee, Jana Adamkova, made the tell-tale rectangle in the air to defer to VAR, Parris drove the ensuing spot-kick high past Alexander's right to open the scoring on 14 minutes.

It was 2-0 just before half-time. Rachel Corsie miscued her tackle on Fran Kirby and Ellen White pounced on the loose ball to finish.

Scotland's Kirsty Smith (left) and England's Nikita Parris battle for the ball. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire
Scotland's Kirsty Smith (left) and England's Nikita Parris battle for the ball. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

England, by then, were in something approaching cruise control.

But Scotland harried and pushed and an uncharacteristically misplaced pass from Steph Houghton gifted possession to Lisa Evans.

Her slipped delivery was tucked home by Claire Emslie and thereafter England looked a little nervy.

Scotland tried gamely to force a leveller, but Georgia Stanway's late pressing ensured that England survived their opponents' only real spell of pressure. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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