The Head Coach switched from the Three Lions’ tried and tested 4-3-3 formation to a 4-4-2 diamond for Thursday night’s match against Ukraine – and both of his strikers scored a brace in a 4-0 win.
Liverpool’s Natasha Dowie scored a goal in each half and Chelsea hotshot Eniola Aluko continued her international purple patch with a second-half double, bringing her tally to seven for the campaign.
England 4-0 Ukraine
FIFA Women's World Cup
Thursday 8 May 2014
Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury Town
Live on BBC
England have now won all six matches on the road to Canada 2015, scoring 33 goals without reply.
In their last qualifier, a 9-0 win over Montenegro in Brighton, the Three Lions opened the scoring inside the opening minute, but Ukraine were always going to prove more stubborn opposition.
Ranked 24th in the world and hitherto unbeaten in qualifying, boss Anatoliy Kutsev refused to pack numbers behind the ball, setting up in an adventurous 4-2-4 formation – and this restricted England to just a handful of chances in the first half.
The first real effort came on the quarter-hour mark when Manchester City midfielder Jill Scott fired just past the angle of post and bar from 20 yards.
Soon after, Aluko jinked her way into the box but poked her shot straight at Iryna Zvarych. Arsenal right-back Alex Scott then stung the Ukraine goalkeeper’s fingers with a near-post effort as England tried to increase the tempo of a largely uneventful opening 45 minutes.
At the tip of the diamond, Lianne Sanderson was charged with supplying Dowie and Aluko up front – and she played in the Chelsea striker either side of Dowie’s opener, only for the side-netting and then the goalkeeper to intervene.
The breakthrough came five minutes before half time. The ball was worked out to Aluko on the right and she delivered a peach of a cross for Dowie to glance a header into the far corner.
Although it had taken 40 minutes, England were worthy of their one-goal lead at the break and within seven minutes of the restart they had effectively racked up their sixth straight win.
First, Steph Houghton nudged Fara Williams’s free-kick into Aluko’s path eight yards from goal and the 27-year-old smashed the ball into the back of the net to double England’s lead.
Four minutes later it was 3-0, with Houghton again the provider, nodding Williams’ corner into Dowie’s path and she made no mistake by slamming the ball home.
Sampson then called Kelly Smith, her country’s record goalscorer, from the bench to replace Sanderson for her first piece of competitive action since last summer’s Euros. Her introduction was followed by a fourth goal less than 60 seconds later.
Aluko outpaced the Ukraine defence to latch onto a through ball from midfield, rounded the advancing Zvarych and slid the ball into an empty net for her ninth goal in her last eight starts.
Daria Apanashchenko threatened to breach the England rearguard for the first time in this campaign, but Arsenal goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain got down well to repel the shot and deny the visitors a late consolation.
England’s remaining qualifiers are all away from home, against Belarus, Ukraine, Wales and Montenegro – but if they carry on this vein, they will soon only have one destination in mind; Canada.
England (4-4-2): 1 Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal); 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal), 5 Steph Houghton (C; Manchester City), 6 Lucy Bronze (Liverpool), 3 Demi Stokes (South Florida Bulls); 4 Fara Williams (Liverpool), 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 7 Jade Moore (Birmingham City), 10 Lianne Sanderson (Boston Breakers); 9 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), 11 Natasha Dowie (Liverpool).
Substitutes: 16 Laura Bassett (Chelsea) for Jill Scott (62), 14 Kelly Smith (Arsenal) for Sanderson (62), 12 Jess Clarke (Notts County) for Aluko (79).
Substitutes not used: 13 Carly Telford (Notts County), 15 Casey Stoney (Arsenal), 17 Sophie Bradley (Notts County), 18 Dunia Susi (Notts County).
Goals: Dowie (40, 53), Aluko (49, 63).
Bookings: Stokes (72).
Head Coach: Mark Sampson.
Ukraine: 1 Iryna Zvarych (C), 2 Olga Basanska, 3 Ol’Ha Boichenko, 4 Valentyna Kotyk, 9 Vira Diatel, 11 Tetianan Romanenko, 15 Iya Andrushchak, 17 Daria Apanashchenko, 18 Iryna Vasylyuk, 19 Maryna Masalska, 20 Valeriya Aloshycheva.
Substitutes: 10 Oksana Yakovyshyn for Aloshycheva (58), 14 Olha Ovdiychuk for Andrushchak (65), 13 Iuliia Korniievets for Boichenko (87).
Substitutes not used: 12 Kateryna Samson, 16 Alla Lyshafai, 22 Nadiia Khavanska, 24 Dar’ya Kravets.
Bookings: Masalska (49).
Head Coach: Anatoliy Kutsev.
Referee: Sara Persson (SWE)