England’s Women continued their fine run of form with a commanding 4-0 victory over Sweden in Hartlepool.
As they prepare to face Wales in a bid to seal their qualification for the 2015 FIFA World Cup a brace from Karen Carney, a debut strike from Fran Kirby and another by Lianne Sanderson gave Mark Sampson’s side a stunning victory against the side ranked fifth in the world.
Sampson broke the tradition of his previous camps by naming the squad four days prior to kick-off.
England 4-0 Sweden
A Women's International
Sunday 3 August 2014
Victoria Park, Hartlepool United FC
Among those also handed starting berths were debutant duo Kirby of Reading and Jodie Taylor, who plays her club football in America with Washington Spirit.
And within a minute of the start the pair combined and 21-year-old Kirby had the chance to mark her first ever touch in an England shirt with a goal.
Taylor found herself in space on the right flank and squared to Kirby. The ball struck a Sweden defender and fell perfectly to the youngster, but she was unable to direct her strike towards goal and it flew over.
England lined up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation and the duo were enjoying a lively start to their international careers.
As the hosts dominated the early exchanges, Kirby and Taylor again combined to force a spectacular save from Hedvig Lindahl in the Sweden goal.
This time Kirby was the provider as she played Taylor in with the most delicate of passes – but Lindahl, who was making her 100th international appearance, was alert and palmed her effort away to safety.
England were in control without being able to break the deadlock – and there was a warning for them at the other end. As Lotta Schelin cut inside on the left wing, she fired a dangerous ball into the box and Karen Bardsley was just able to get fingertips onto it and divert it onto the woodwork.
The visitors were beginning to find their feet in the game but the Lionesses remained in control, and got their reward just after the half-hour mark.
Carney was bundled to the ground by Sofia Jakobsson in the box as she rose to meet a floated cross from Jordan Nobbs. Referee Sjoukje De Jong had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The Birmingham City captain got to her feet to take the spot-kick, and although her original effort struck the inside of the post, she was able to get scramble home after an almighty tussle in the box involving four Swedish defenders.
Outplayed for much of the first half, Pia Sundhage made three changes at half-time. But it did not stem the tide of England’s dominance and the Lionesses began the second half as they ended the first.
Carney and Kirby both drew spectacular saves from Carola Soberg – who was among the three half-time substitutions – within moments of the restart.
But Kirby, lively and troublesome throughout, did not have to wait long to open her England account.
The youngster found herself in space in the box with a trademark drop of the shoulder, beat her marker and fired low past the Sweden goalkeeper to double the Lionesses’ lead.
They did not stop there either. In the week leading up to the fixture Sampson had emphasised to his players that although it may be a friendly by name it would not be by nature – and his players took this message on board.
England continued to press and hurry their illustrious opponents, never allowing them to settle on the ball and denying them the opportunity to fashion any sort of rhythm to their play.
Sanderson embodied this spirit throughout the game – and the week leading up to it – and on 68 minutes got her name on the scoresheet, as she picked up the ball from Demi Stokes and fired low to Soberg’s right to make it 3-0.
Carney was again in the thick of the action with 10 minutes to go. After a neat interchange on the edge of the box the Solihull-born midfielder curled a fine right-footed effort past the keeper to make it 4-0, and put England truly out of sight.
There would be no more goalmouth action for the remaining minutes, but Sampson’s side had done enough in front of a packed Victoria Park crowd – who would have gone home brimming with joy after watching a wonderful England display in the August sunshine.
England (4-3-3): 1 Karen Bardsley; 2 Alex Scott, 5 Steph Houghton (C), 6 Lucy Bronze, 3 Demi Stokes; 4 Fara Williams, 7 Jordan Nobbs, 8 Karen Carney; 11 Fran Kirby, 9 Jodie Taylor, 10 Lianne Sanderson.
Substitutes: 19 Toni Duggan (for Kirby) 61, 20 Eniola Aluko (for Taylor) 61, 12 Laura Bassett (for Bronze) 71, 15 Alex Greenwood (for Stokes) 76, 18 Jill Scott (for Williams) 76.
Substitutes not used: 13 Siobhan Chamberlain, 14 Gemma Bonner, 16 Jo Potter, 17 Jade Moore, 21 Carly Telford, 22 Natasha Dowie, 23 Jess Clarke.
Head coach: Mark Sampson
Goals: Carney (36, 80), Kirby (53), Sanderson (68)
Sweden (4-1-3-2): 1 Hedvig Lindahl; 16 Lina Nilsson, 5 Nilla Fischer, 2 Emma Berglund, 6 Sara Thunebro; 17 Caroline Seger, 10 Sofia Jakobsson, 9 Kosovare Asllani, 14 Hanna Folkesson; 8 Lotta Schelin (C), 15 Therese Sjogran.
Substitutes: 4 Amanda Ilestedt (for Fischer) 37, 21 Carola Soberg (for Lindahl) 46, 7 Lisa Dahlkvist (for Asllani) 46, 13 Jenny Hjohlman (for Jakobsson) 46, 19 Emma Lundh (for Seger) 60, 3 Linda Sembrant (for Berglund) 69.
Substitutes not used: 11 Antonia Goransson, 18 Fridolina Rolfo, , 20 Emilia Appelqvist, 22 Elin Wahlstrom, 23 Magdalena Ericsson.
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
Referee: Sjoukje De Jong (NED)