Wales 0 v 3 England (Women’s FIFA World Cup Qualifying)
Wales Women arrived at Rodney Parade for their final FIFA World Cup Qualifier match against England Women, knowing that a win would secure them first place in the group and a place in the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France.
Wales had the first real effort at goal after only two minutes, when a Jill Scott pass was cut out by Helen Ward who feed the ball to Nolan inside the England area but her shot was blocked by Steph Houghton and went for a corner. The resulting Ingle’s corner was met by Roberts but she could only send her header wide of the post.
On four minutes, Lucy Bronze sends a cross into the area but Jodie Taylor cannot reach the ball, Toni Duggan collects the loose ball and fizzes it back in the area for Nikita Parris who gets a header in from the eighteen yard box, but it does not trouble O’Sullivan’s goal.
Just two minutes later, the visitors should have taken the lead after an Alex Greenwood shot was deflected onto the crossbar before falling to Nikita Parris, who slotted the ball home only to see the offside flag raised and referee Katalin Kulcsár disallowed the goal.
The visitors went close again on seventeen minutes, as Alex Greenwood again did well on the left-wing surging forward towards the edge of the box before slipping in Jodie Taylor, however the striker’s shot was tame and easily saved by Laura O’Sullivan.
On twenty-six minutes, Toni Duggan’s ball into the area is good which was fizzed in with pace towards the back post, where Millie Bright heads the ball back across goal. The ball drops to the edge of the box, where Jordan Nobbs effort goal wards is just off target.
Two minutes later, England created their own luck, as Jill Scott puts the ball into the box and Jody Taylor wins the ball, shoving off her marker before Nikita Parris cross-shot is dragged across goal and collected by Laura O’Sullivan in the Wales goal.
Just after the half-hour mark, the home side tested the England defence following an error by Lucy Bronze which gave Helen Ward a half chance, however the shot was well saved by Karen Bardsley in the visitors goal.
On thirty-six minutes, Wales appeal for a penalty when Kayleigh Green sprints into the area and beats Karen Bardsley to the ball before going down in the area, however the England goalkeeper gets a glove on the ball before catching the Wales forward and the referee waves away the penalty claims.
Two minutes before half-time Wales goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan almost runs into trouble as the visitors get the ball into the box. As two defenders ushering it towards O’Sullivan there is a communication mix-up which almost allows England in as Taylor lurks, but Wales get away with it to level the half-time score 0-0.
England started the better of the two sides in the second-half and were first to have an effort at goal when Alex Greenwood made an early surge down the left before drifting infield and winning an early free-kick. It’s an inviting ball in, but Jill Scott cannot latch on to the cross as Laura O’Sullivan comes rushing out of goal to collect the ball.
On fifty-five minutes, Nikita Parris does well down the right hand side following a hard but fair challenge from Natasha Harding. Wales then played themselves into trouble as a poor clearance from Sophie Ingle fell to Nobbs who sent a shot over O’Sullivan’s crossbar.
England took the lead on fifty-seven minutes, when Jordan Nobbs sweeped a first-time cross to the edge of the six yard box, O’Sullivan superbly denying Jodie Taylor but the ball dropped to fran Kirby, who unselfishly spread the ball out to Toni Duggan, who curled the ball home to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
Two minutes later, Steph Houghton the England captain steps up to take a free-kick just outside the area, but Laura O’Sullivan in the home goal gets a strong right hand to save the ball from dipping into the bottom corner.
England extended their lead from the resulting corner which was initally headed clear to the edge of the area, before Lucy Bronze’s clever dink into the box was met by Jill Scott who sent a looping header beyond O’Sullivan into the net to make it 2-0.
Before the home side had chance to re-group the visitors added a third on sixty-nine minutes, as Laura O’Sullivan spilled an Alex Greenwood free-kick at the near post only to see Jodie Taylor nudge the ball across goal for Nikita Parris headed into an empty goal to make the score 3-0.
Wales continued to fight, backed by an outstanding crowd of over 5,000 supporters as substitute Elise Hughes’s shot was blocked by Steph Houghton on seventy-seven minutes.
On eighty-two minutes, Jessica Fishlock does brilliantly, surging into the box but her final touch was just to far in front of her and Lucy Bronze hacked the ball away for a corner. It was not to be for Wales as the resulting corner failed to get beyond the front post to make the full-time score 3-0 to England.
Speaking after the match England manager Phil Neville said, “When I took over people said I didn’t know anything about the women’s game and I didn’t know how to cope with female footballers, I think from day one I have put that to bed.
I’ve used that as my motivation, every time we win a game it’s another box ticked and I have embraced this. You know when you hear Klopp, José and Mauricio Pochettino say they love their players well I do, I love working in the women’s game and my players are like my family now and it’s special.”
England will now travel to Kazakhstan for their final group match on Tuesday evening knowing that they have already won the group and qualified for FIFA World Cup next summer in France.
Wales – O’Sullivan, Ladd, Dykes, Ingle, Roberts, James, Fishlock, Harding, Nolan, Ward, Green (Subs) Evans, Griffiths, Lawrence, Skinner, Hughes, Vincze, Morgan
England – Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Greenwood, Nobbs, Scott, Parris, Kirby, Duggan, Taylor (Subs) McManus, Telford, Christiansen, Walsh, Daly, Mead, Lawley
Goals – (England) Duggan (57), Scott (60), Parris (69)
Attendance – 5,053