Three Lions cruise to victory
Thursday, 22 September, 2011
Goals from Yankey, White, Houghton and Williams seal 4-0 win.
Glenn Lavery in Swindon
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England recorded their first Euro 2013 qualifying victory with a comfortable 4-0 dismissal of Slovenia at the County Ground.
Early goals from Rachel Yankey and Ellen White set the tone as the Three Lions quickly banished memories of the late Serbian equaliser on Saturday.
A third Arsenal goalscorer, Steph Houghton, made it 3-0 ten minutes into the second half when she headed Yankey’s left-wing cross beyond Slovenian goalkeeper Lucija Mori, but substitute Rachel Williams rolled home for number four with just three minutes left.
It was an accomplished performance from England who dominated possession and goal chances and the victory will give them a timely boost ahead of a potentially tricky trip to Holland next month.
There were five changes to the side from Saturday with Karen Bardsley, Alex Scott, Houghton, Jess Clarke and Fara Williams coming in for, respectively, Rachel Brown, Dunia Susi, Jill Scott, Natasha Dowie and Laura Bassett.
Before the game National Coach Hope Powell had urged her players to be more clinical in front of goal after converting just two of over 30 goalscoring opportunities against Serbia and Yankey wasted no time in satisfying her manager’s request, opening the scoring inside the first minute of the game.
A short corner was played to the Arsenal winger by Williams and Yankey took a touch before drilling the ball low, across goal and into the far corner to give England the perfect start.
Karen Carney then had an effort saved from the edge of the box as the hosts took immediate control of the game. This dominance was further rewarded in just the fifth minute when an unmarked White headed home Carney’s right-wing cross.
More chances came before the game was ten minutes old as Houghton saw a shot blocked by Ines Spelic and White drilled the ball wide; England appeared keen to finish the game as a contest as early possible.
However, as outplayed as they had been, Slovenia had a presentable chance to halve the deficit when captain, and record goalscorer, Mateja Zver played a through ball into the box for the advancing Snezana Malesevic. She had more time than she thought and hit her effort straight at the hitherto untested Bardsley.
Much like Saturday, England were on top for the majority of the first half, but only two more clear chances were created. Just after the half hour mark, some intricate football between Carney, Williams and Scott set up White to have a crack at goal but it was blocked bravely by Lucija Grad. And with half-time approaching, Yankey burst through the middle before slipping a pass to the on-rushing Scott. The right-back took it first time on her weaker left foot and Mori gathered.
With thoughts of Serbia’s improved second-half performance, and comeback, still fresh in their minds, England knew they could not let up after the interval, as demonstrated by Rachel Unitt’s header wide from Carney’s corner in the 48th minute. Williams then rifled a low free-kick goalwards only for Mori to save and Yankey thumped a shot wide of the near post. They were totally in control, just unable to convert more of their opportunities.
This all changed, however, in the 56th minute when Yankey brilliantly skipped past Slovenian right-back Grad and delivered a delicious centre which Houghton gleefully headed home to make it 3-0.
Powell’s charges were cruising and another block from Grad just before the hour prevented the scoreline from getting any worse from a Slovenian point of view. Carney broke into the right-hand side of the box and pulled the ball back for White, whose touch evaded her on this occasion. Yankey salvaged possession at the far post only to see her attempt cleared off the line.
Moments later Unitt, who had seen Mori stray from her line, tried to get herself on the scoresheet with an impudent chip from 35 yards, but the ‘keeper recovered quickly to claim the high ball.
The scoreline could have been healthier still had Mori not been alert to Williams’ cheeky near post flick from Yankey’s corner.
Rachel Williams and Fern Whelan got the chance to impress from the bench when they replaced Yankey and Sophie Bradley respectively and the former almost made an immediate impact when meeting Carney’s right wing cross but Mori denied England yet again.
But Mori could do nothing to stop Birmingham's Williams from grabbing her first goal for England in simple fashion. A ball in from Unitt was flicked on by Williams but looked to be head out of play. But Clarke didn’t give up and hooked the ball pack into the path of Williams who tapped in from six yards to seal a maiden victory of the new campaign for Powell’s side.