Phil Neville’s reign as England Women’s head coach began with a resounding 4-1 win over France in the opening match of the SheBelieves Cup.
The former Manchester United defender was appointed Lionesses boss in January and his first match in charge should, on paper, have been a far more difficult assignment against a team ranked sixth in the world.
But his side blew away next year’s World Cup hosts and recorded their biggest-ever win over their opponents in the process.
- SheBelieves Cup
- Thursday 1 March
- MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus
Fran Kirby got in on the act just moments after the restart and although Gaetane Thiney registered a late consolation, the Lionesses never looked in danger as they laid down a marker at the beginning of this annual friendly tournament.
A blustery Ohio wind aided England’s cause in the first half and they made the most of that advantage as early as the sixth minute when Duggan broke the deadlock.
Lucy Bronze, captain in the absence of the injured Steph Houghton, found the impressive Nikita Parris with a throw-in.
Parris moved the ball onto Fran Kirby who laid it off to Duggan on the left-hand side of the box – and the 26-year-old curled a low shot into the far corner for the first goal of the Neville regime.
They were dealt a blow just moments later, though, when Anita Asante, who was making her first international appearance since 2014, caught her studs in the turf and had to be replaced by debutant Abbie McManus.
Taylor, top scorer at Euro 2017, came close to doubling the lead when her 18-yard chip bounced down off the crossbar and Karima Benameur gathered the loose ball.
However, with France a shadow of their former selves, England did eventually make their dominance count when Scott side-footed home from the edge of the area just before the half-hour mark.
And it got even better before the break.
After Scott dispossessed a pedestrian Lauren Georges in midfield and gave the ball to Parris, the in-form Man City forward found Taylor with a wonderfully weighted pass.
The sharpshooter did the rest, slipping the ball underneath Benameur for a third goal to round off a fantastic half for the Lionesses.
The result was put beyond doubt just two minutes after the restart when England sliced open the French defence once more and Kirby converted a low cross by Scott.
France were hapless throughout but they did reduce arrears on 77 minutes when Thiney’s 20-yard strike hit Millie Bright and wrong-footed Karen Bardsley for a mere consolation.
Having gone 43 years without beating the French, England have now won two of the last three meetings.
Their second SheBelieves Cup match is against Germany on Sunday night.
England (4-3-3): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 2 Lucy Bronze (capt; Manchester City), 5 Anita Asante (Chelsea), 6 Millie Bright (Chelsea), 3 Demi Stokes (Manchester City); 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 22 Keira Walsh (Manchester City), 10 Fran Kirby (Chelsea); 7 Nikita Parris (Manchester City), 9 Jodie Taylor (Melbourne City), 11 Toni Duggan (Barcelona).
Substitutes: 15 Abbie McManus (Manchester City) for Asante 14, 19 Melissa Lawley (Manchester City) for Parris 61, 16 Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City) for Kirby 71, 18 Ellen White (Birmingham City) for Duggan 71, 21 Carly Telford (Chelsea) for Bardsley 83, 14 Alex Greenwood (Liverpool) for Stokes 87.
Substitutes not used: 4 Fara Williams (Reading), 12 Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), 17 Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), 20 Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), 23 Gabrielle George (Everton).
Goals: Duggan 7, Scott 28, Taylor 39, Kirby 47
Bookings: Bright 52
Head coach: Phil Neville