First-half double hands England victory over Scotland in Nice


An impressive first-half display from England, which saw goals from Nikita Parris and Ellen White, handed Phil Neville’s Lionesses victory despite a late Scotland goal from Claire Emslie.

Scotland started the occasion brightly, relishing the opportunity to play at their first ever World Cup finals. Phil Neville’s England did settle and began to dominate possession as expected.

A VAR check was called on 12 minutes as referee Jada Adamkova eventually adjudged that Scotland defender Nicola Docherty’s arm was in an unnatural position when handling a Fran Kirby cross.

Nikita Parris stepped up and dispatched the penalty confidently into the top left corner past Lee Alexander to net  her 13th England goal and give the Lionesses the perfect start.

England had a chance to double the lead after a succession of sustained attacks, Kirby just dragging a low shot wide after a lay-off by Ellen White.

A great save by Alexander denied England a second on 21 minutes. A volleyed cross by Lucy Bronze was turned towards goal by White only to be denied low by Alexander in the Scotland goal.

30-year-old White headed in moments later only for the goal to be correctly ruled out, England’s second goal appearing a matter of when rather than if.

England and Scotland fans in Nice pre-match (Photo: Steve Clare)

Beth Mead was denied by Alexander just after the half an hour mark as England’s combination play out wide constantly blighted Scotland’s defence.

White made no mistake when presented with another chance on 40 minutes. Scotland failed to clear the ball and after Kirby squeezed the ball through for White, the new Manchester City striker expertly curled the ball round Alexander to double the Lionesses’ lead.

Scotland’s best chance of the half came a minute later as the ever-dangerous Erin Cuthbert latched onto a loose touch by Keira Walsh but could only drag her shot wide of the untested Karen Bardsley’s goal.

Further England pressure continued but as half-time arrived in Nice, England led by two goals to nil.

The offside flag denied an England third just 30 seconds after the restart, a goal that would have surely condemned Scotland to defeat.

Scotland’s first real effort at goal came in the 57th minute as winger Claire Emslie stung the palms of Karen Bardsley with a low strike.

Shelley Kerr’s women battled to find a route back into the match, Chelsea striker Cuthbert instrumental in much of Scotland’s positive attacking play.

For Scotland to have any chance in the game it was vital to not concede a third and without the heroics of goalkeeper Alexander they certainly would have on 70 minutes. An Alex Greenwood corner was headed down by Jill Scott for Ellen White to volley towards goal, Alexander making a good reaction save.

At the other end, Scotland’s attacks were filled with more promise as the forward trio of Lisa Evans, Emslie and Cuthbert began to cause England’s defence problems for the first time in the match.

On 78 minutes they made their pressure pay. Evans played a great ball through to Emslie who held off the challenge of Greenwood to fire past Bardsley via a deflection off an England defender.

England reacted well by forcing a succession of corners but knew Scotland’s determination would make the final minutes of this match a tough battle.

Substitute Georgia Stanway’s curled effort almost added a third for England as time ticked away on Scottish hopes of gaining anything from the match.

Phil Neville would’ve been impressed by his teams game management, preventing Scotland from creating clear-cut chances after their goal.

England saw out the fixture to gain their first three points of Group D after first-half goals from Nikita Parris and Ellen White.

England XI: Bardsley, Bronze, Greenwood, Walsh, Houghton (c), Bright (McManus, 55), Parris, Scott, Kirby (Stanway, 82), White, Mead (Carney, 70)

Scotland XI: Alexander, Docherty (Smith, 55), Corsie, Beattie, Weir, Little, Evans, Howard (Arthur, 74), Murray (Arnot, 87), Emslie, Cuthbert


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