England Women’s head coach Mark Sampson was delighted with every aspect of his side’s play after they romped to a 9-0 World Cup qualifying win over Montenegro in Brighton.
Toni Duggan bagged a hat-trick – her second of the campaign – and further goals from Eniola Aluko, Jill Scott, Karen Carney, Lianne Sanderson, Demi Stokes and Natasha Dowie gave Sampson a resounding victory in his first home match in charge.
It was the Three Lions’ biggest win since October 2005 when they beat Hungary by a record 13-0 in Tapolca and they have now won all five qualifiers to date, scoring 29 goals without reply.
England 9-0 Montenegro
FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Group 6 qualifier
Saturday 5 April
Amex Stadium, Brighton & Hove Albion FC
Sampson said: "It’s difficult in circumstances like that when you’re by far the superior team and you score early goals.
"It was an important test of the players’ character that they stuck to the game plan, kept doing the right things and I’m delighted we maintained our standards and our intensity right through to the final whistle.
"We created lots of opportunities and in the main we took them. It would have been nice to get 10 for the supporters but to score nine goals, keep a clean sheet and play in the manner that we did, we have to be very pleased with that."
The 31-year-old is only six matches in to his tenure and he will no doubt face tougher tests in the future – Montenegro are ranked 85th in the world and this is their first-ever qualifying campaign. But Sampson saw enough at the Amex Stadium to make him realise he has the players and the right combinations to build on.
He added: "In terms of gauging progress you’re looking at your performance indicators in terms of the standards we’ve set for ourselves and the attacking aspects of our play, and I felt for large parts they were good. We had some good movement, some good passing combinations and we created some good opportunities.
Highlights of the win over Montenegro
"I thought the two centre backs were very, very solid, down both sides of the pitch the wide players and the full backs linked up very well.
"It’s nice to see those partnerships starting to form and the girls beginning to enjoy playing together, and when you get that sense of enjoyment, working together with a smile on your face, you’ll start to see some fascinating play."
He continued: "We want to be a group who excite and inspire supporters and be a team people feel they can follow. It’s important we put a performance on that makes people feel proud to support this team. I felt every single player, from the girls in the stand to the girls on the pitch, wore the jersey with pride, put in a performance where there was lots of effort and intent.
"If we can do that then we give ourselves the best chance of people coming to get behind us."