England Women regained control of their World Cup qualifying group following a 3-1 win in Russia.
Wales went top for 24 hours after their 1-0 defeat of Bosnia on Thursday night, but a Jill Scott brace and a Nikita Parris header helped the Lionesses climb back to the top of the tree.
Phil Neville’s side are now two points clear of the Red Dragons with just two qualifiers remaining, away to Wales and Kazakhstan.
- 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup
- Group 1 qualifier
- Friday 8 June 2018
- Sapsan Arena, Moscow
With 130 caps, Scott was the most experienced England player on the pitch and she underlined her importance with a first-half double.
After Parris had given the Lionesses a 1-0 lead, Scott arrived late to head home a right-wing cross by captain Lucy Bronze.
Elena Danilova pulled one back for the hosts, but Keira Walsh clipped a lovely ball into the box ten minutes before half time which Scott flicked home on the volley for her 21st international goal – of the current squad, only Ellen White has more (26).
This was only Scott’s second start in World Cup qualifying but she certainly made her presence felt.
Purple patch for Parris
Parris is England’s top scorer in qualifying with five goals. The only match in which she didn’t score was the goalless draw with Wales.
She broke the deadlock at the Sapsan Arena by running off Anastasiya Akimova’s shoulder to convert Toni Duggan’s pinpoint cross.
The 24-year-old scored the Lionesses’ first goal in this qualifying campaign – against Russia in September – and added to her tally with strikes against Bosnia and Kazakhstan (2).
A rare breach
Danilova’s 31st-minute header is the only goal England have conceded in qualifying.
The Lionesses defence had barely been tested in their previous five matches so it would have been a huge disappointment for Carly Telford et al to see Danilova’s effort hit the back of the net.
But with a place at the World Cup in touching distance, the defensive unit can now refocus and target two more clean sheets which could go a long way to ensuring England are present at next summer’s showpiece.
After representing her country in every age group, Leah Williamson came off the bench in the second half for her senior team bow.
The 21-year-old, who shot to prominence with the infamous re-taken penalty against Norway in 2015, was largely deployed at centre back by Arsenal last season, but she is also comfortable in midfield – and that’s where she made her late cameo.
Welcome to the club, Leah.
Injured players to return
The Lionesses are back in the driving seat for World Cup qualification after this professional performance. It’s even more impressive considering the calibre of player who was unavailable on Friday.
Captain Steph Houghton, vice-captain Jordan Nobbs, midfielders Isobel Christiansen and Jade Moore and left-back Demi Stokes were all ruled out through injury.
Although Neville has said he would like to increase his player pool, the Lionesses squad already seems pretty strong.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Carly Telford (Chelsea); 2 Lucy Bronze (capt; Lyon), 5 Abbie McManus (Manchester City), 6 Millie Bright (Chelsea), 3 Rachel Daly (Houston Dash); 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 4 Keira Walsh (Manchester City); 7 Nikita Parris (Manchester City), 10 Fran Kirby (Chelsea), 11 Toni Duggan (Barcelona); 9 Ellen White (Birmingham City).
Substitutes: 16 Beth Mead (Arsenal) for Duggan 62, 18 Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign) for White 67, 14 Leah Williamson (Arsenal) for Walsh 84.
Substitutes not used: 12 Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), 13 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), 15 Lauren Bruton (Reading), 19 Mel Lawley (Manchester City).
Goals: Parris 22, Scott 27, 36
Head coach: Phil Neville