Bronze, Aluko and Houghton fire for perfect England

Saturday 14 Jun 2014
Eniola Aluko has scored in both qualifying matches against Belarus
A goal apiece from Eniola Aluko, captain Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze gave England’s Women a deserved 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Belarus in Minsk.

Just as they did the last time the two sides met in September, the Three Lions dominated possession, though the scoreline was less emphatic than the 6-0 win in Bournemouth.

Belarus 0-3 England

FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Group 6 qualifier
Traktor Stadium, Minsk
Saturday 14 June 2014

After seeing an earlier header cleared off the line, Aluko dinked home the opener on the half-hour mark.

Houghton extended the advantage six minutes later, finishing off a free-kick straight from the training ground, and Bronze completed the scoring in added time with her first international goal.

This result leaves Mark Sampson’s side needing four points from their final three qualifiers to secure a place at Canada 2015. They have won all seven qualifiers to date without conceding a goal.

Karen Carney scored a hat-trick when England entertained Belarus and the Birmingham City captain had a great opportunity to put her side ahead in the sixth minute.

Carney was picked out in a central position by Fara Williams but her low shot into the corner was saved by Ina Batsianouskaya.

The impressive Williams was involved again moments later. This time the Liverpool schemer found Aluko on the edge of the box and the Chelsea striker could only blaze an effort over the top.

England probed through the centre early on but right-back Alex Scott showed they could create from wide positions, too. The Arsenal defender whipped a ball into the box which was collected by Natasha Dowie, who pulled her shot wide of the far post.

England defender Steph Houghton

England captain Steph Houghton

A set-piece was the Three Lions’ next route to goal as Aluko’s far post header, from Williams’ corner, was cleared off the line.

The pattern of the game had been set – and it was not too much longer until England broke the deadlock.

Williams pressed high as Belarus tried to play out from the back. The 30-year-old’s endeavour paid off as she intercepted a ball forward and slipped in Aluko, who produced a cool finish – her eighth goal of this qualifying campaign.

The lead was doubled shortly after courtesy of a well-worked free-kick, and again Williams was at the heart of the move. She pulled an 18-yard free kick across the edge of the box and Houghton drilled a low shot into the back of the net.

The visitors continued to press, Aluko having a header ruled out for offside, Laura Bassett firing wide and Jade Moore forcing Batsianouskaya to tip a shot around the post, but England were unable to extend their lead before the break.

Lucy Bronze

Liverpool defender Lucy Bronze rounded off the scoring in added time

The second half was something of a non-event with neither side able to fashion many clear-cut chances.

Possession was squandered by both sides, although England did attempt build on their lead every time they went forward.

Williams tried to add a goal to her two first-half assists with a free-kick and a shot from distance and then Houghton hit a free-kick over the bar.

Substitute Lianne Sanderson, on for Aluko, should have made it 3-0 in the final minutes, but the Boston Breakers striker fired over from 10 yards after some good work out wide from fellow sub Jess Clarke.

Liverpool defender Bronze did put that gloss on a comfortable England performance in added time, though, drilling home from an angle after Williams’ corner broke loose inside the box.

England are next in action on Thursday when they take on Ukraine in Lviv.

Belarus: 22 Ina Batsianouskaya (C), 2 Tatsiana Markusheuskaya, 3 Anastasiya Linnik, 4 Yuliya Sliasarchyk, 6 Liana Mirashnichenka, 9 Anastasiya Khavanskaya, 10 Hanna Pilipenka, 11 Alina Vasilyeva, 13 Darya Marynina, 14 Hanna Kaziupa, 16 Yuliya Barysenka.

Substitutes: 8 Nastassia Papova for Linnik 46, 17 Katsiaryna Avkhimovich for Mirashnichenka 57

Substitutes not used: 1 Maryia Dashkouskaya, 5 Valiantsina Nizheharodava, 7 Anastasija-Grazyna Shcherbachenia, 15 Palina Beshtsen, 18 Alena Shauchuk 

Bookings: Avkhimovich 87

Head coach: Tatiana Volkova

England (4-4-2): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal), 5 Steph Houghton (C; Manchester City), 6 Lucy Bronze (Liverpool), 3 Demi Stokes (South Florida Bulls); 7 Jade Moore (Birmingham City), 4 Fara Williams (Liverpool), 8 Laura Bassett (Chelsea), 10 Karen Carney (Birmingham City); 9 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), 11 Natasha Dowie (Liverpool)

Substitutes: 12 Sophie Bradley (Notts County) for Stokes 62, 16 Jess Clarke (Notts County) for Dowie 66, 17 Lianne Sanderson (Boston Breakers) for Aluko 78

Substitutes not used: 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal), 14 Dunia Susi (Notts County), 15 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 18 Fran Kirby (Reading)

Head coach: Mark Sampson

Goals: Aluko 30, Houghton 36, Bronze 90

Referee:Jana Adamkova

By Glenn Lavery at Traktor Stadium, Minsk