Soccer

England make winning start in Women’s Nations League after tough Scottish test

Lucy Bronze, centre, and Lauren Hemp, right, scored in England’s win (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Lucy Bronze, centre, and Lauren Hemp, right, scored in England’s win (Owen Humphreys/PA) Lucy Bronze, centre, and Lauren Hemp, right, scored in England’s win (Owen Humphreys/PA)

England got their Nations League campaign off to a winning start with a 2-1 win against Scotland at the Stadium of Light.

Just over a month after their World Cup final defeat to Spain, the Lionesses earned an inaugural win in the competition after going ahead through former Black Cat Lucy Bronze.

Lauren Hemp doubled the lead before Scotland pulled one back just before the break through Kirsty Hanson and the visitors had plenty of good opportunities to level in the second half but were unable to capitalise on their chances.

Prior to kick-off both teams paid their respects to Sheffield United’s Maddy Cusack, who has died aged 27, and a period of silence was observed around the stadium.

England were on the front foot straight from kick-off and Georgia Stanway had the first real attempt of the game 10 minutes in when her header went just wide.

Lauren James then launched into an excellent mazy run across the Scottish half and threaded the ball to Rachel Daly, whose low effort was comfortably saved by Lee Gibson.

The Lionesses kept possession well but struggled to find the breakthrough as Stanway tried one of her trademark long-distance efforts from outside the box with Gibson saving.

Georgia Stanway, left, shoots from distance against Scotland
Georgia Stanway, left, shoots from distance against Scotland Georgia Stanway, left, shoots from distance against Scotland (Will Matthews/PA)

However, the visitors took their chances where they could as Caroline Weir had a powerful effort from inside the box well saved by Mary Earps.

England thought they had broken the deadlock in the 25th minute through Daly’s flicked header from a corner, but the celebrations were quickly cut short when the goal was ruled out for offside against Chloe Kelly in the build-up.

Pouncing on a missed opportunity, Scotland were suddenly on the attack as Hanson made a great run down the left flank but Martha Thomas was unable to stab the ball home, before the Tottenham striker’s curling effort was held by Earps.

Former Sunderland defender Bronze opened the scoring for the Lionesses after a great cross from Katie Zelem picked out the right-back, who made a perfectly timed run to head home.

They doubled the lead in the 45th minute after Daly picked out Hemp on the left for the Manchester City winger to head into the top corner.

Scotland pulled one back with the last kick of the half as England failed to clear their lines in the box and Hanson was able to poke a low cross into the bottom corner.

England goalkeeper Mary Earps, centre, is beaten by Kirsty Hanson, not pictured
England goalkeeper Mary Earps, centre, is beaten by Kirsty Hanson, not pictured Mary Earps is beaten by Kirsty Hanson’s effort (Will Matthews/PA)

A closely contested start to the second half saw James’ curling effort whistle over the top corner before Kelly hit a brilliant low cross into the box for Daly, who was unable to get her feet sorted in time.

Scotland threatened again as Earps was equal to Thomas’ header and the visitors looked the brighter of the two teams, but England were able to shut down the threat quickly.

Scotland had another great chance to level as Earps made a fantastic punch to clear Rachel McLauchlan’s attempted cross and Hanson smashed the rebound off the crossbar.

The visitors threatened again with six minutes to go as Lisa Evans picked out Christy Grimshaw on the edge of the box but her low effort was held by Earps.

James broke forward in added to head home after Gibson’s initial save, but the goal was ruled out for offside and Fiona Brown had the final effort of the game saved by Earps.