ENGLAND proved there was no World Cup hangover with a battling 2-1 defeat of Scotland in the Women’s Nations League.
Ex-Sunderland ace Lucy Bronze had the Stadium of Light crowd rocking as the hosts fended off a feisty fightback to win their opening fixture.
EPAEngland clinched three points on their first-ever Nations League appearance[/caption]
ReutersRachel Daly thought she had opened the scoring, but the goal was disallowed after Kelly was deemed to be in an offside position[/caption]
It is a victory that brings England a little closer to getting the results they need for a Team GB football side to qualify for the Paris Olympics.
In a match that came a month after the team endured World Cup final heartbreak, the Lionesses returned to winning ways under boss Sarina Wiegman.
And the match came a night after many across the women’s game and beyond mourned the death of Sheffield United ace Maddy Cusack.
The passing of the highly-rated midfielder on Wednesday, at the age of just 27, prompted heartfelt tributes from across the game including from Beth Mead and Leah Williamson.
The Lionesses and Scotland wore black armbands and observed a minute’s silence in honour of highly-rated Blades centurion, who played for England at youth level.
And they also donned wristband bearing the slogan #SeAcabo in honour of Spain’s Women’s stars’ battle for change after being treated shabbily by their FA.
Ahead of the game there were concerns that the Lionesses could feel the effects of fixture overload having played two major tournaments back-to-back.
But any signs of tiredness were initially blown away early in the first-half.
GettyLucy Bronze broke the deadlock[/caption]
GettyLauren Hemp doubled England’s advantage[/caption]
GettyKirsty Hanson got one back for Scotland with the last kick of the first half[/caption]
And they proved the newly-agreed performance bonus with the FA was well-deserved.
Rachel Daly’s thumping header almost gave the hosts an early opener before the goal was ruled offside.
Scotland had some rare chances of their own in the first spell with Caroline Weir testing Mary Earps at close range and Martha Thomas almost meeting Kirsty Hanson’s cross.
However the visitors went 1-0 down with Bronze heading home in the 39th minute before Lauren Hemp doubling the advantage moments later.
But much to England’s surprise Hanson pulled one slotting beyond Earps.
The second spell saw Wiegman’s side come under the cosh with Hanson proving to be a pest in attack before limping off with ankle issue late on.
She struck the bar with a volley struck over Earps moments after teeing up Claire Emslie with Alex Greenwood forced to clear the ball out of danger.
Weir fired an effort straight at Earps late on with the Lionesses’ Player of the Year stop prompting loud chants of her name by the crowd.
And her team held out to claim a narrow win ahead of their second Women’s Nations League Group A duel with Holland on Tuesday.