The England Women made the perfect return to action after hitting Northern Ireland for six in Hege Riise’s first match as interim head coach.
It was the first match in 354 days for the England Women, as Ellen White’s hat-trick and a goal each from Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly and an Ella Toone penalty on her debut saw England cruise past Kenny Shiels’ side.
England Score Six Against Northern Ireland
An Impressive Milestone for Scott
Aside from Toone, Sander MacIver, Lotte Wubbon-Moy and Ebony Salmon were all introduced from the bench to make their senior debuts.
Much of the pre-match build-up to the game focused on Scott and the 34-year-old produced a commanding shift in central midfield to become only the second women’s player to reach the 150-cap milestone after Fara Williams.
The experienced Scott was partnered in the centre of midfield by the youthful exuberance of Georgia Stanway, and both were allowed plenty of freedom to dictate the pace of the game against a depleted Northern Ireland team.
The gulf in class between the two nations was clearly apparent, and Northern Ireland had goalkeeper Becky Flaherty to thank for keeping the score respectable.
Flaherty prevented England from breaking the deadlock in the fifth minute when she was out quickly to thwart White, after being played through by Scott.
Flaherty was called into action again to deny Bronze from Alex Greenwood’s free-kick, but she couldn’t prevent the inevitable, as White scored the first of her three goals with 18 minutes played.
The Man City striker took advantage of a sloppy backpass and clinically dispatched her close-range strike to break the deadlock, and added a second just five minutes later with a brilliant header from Bronze’s cross.
It was all one-way traffic and England were in cruise control when Bronze had the simplest of tap-ins from Lauren Hemp’s cross to make it 3-0 with under half an hour played.
The City forward completed her hat-trick four minutes after the restart to take her tally up to 39 England goals, when she latched onto Scott’s through ball and sent a clinical finish past Flaherty.
She could have got a fourth after linking up well with City teammate Chloe Kelly but was denied by the linesman’s flag after applying a lovely dinked finish into the net.
Toone Impresses on Her Debut
Daly got in on the act herself in the 67th minute as Bronze claimed another assist, as the former tapped in from point-blank range to make it 5-0.
Toone entered the fray ahead of the restart and made it a debut to remember after Chloe Holloway was penalised for pulling Kelly in the box, with the Lionesses subsequently awarded a penalty.
The Manchester United forward confidently sent Flaherty the wrong may to make it 6-0 and complete a thoroughly productive afternoon’s work for Riise’s side.
The Lionesses now turn their attention to another friendly with Canada in April, while Northern Ireland have the small matter of a Euro 2022 play-off to prepare for in the same month.
Embed from Getty Images