England’s Women’s National Team came out victorious in the opening match of the 3rd SheBelieves Cup. The Lionesses defeated the French by a score of 4-1 with goals by Toni Duggan, Jill Scott, Jodie Taylor and Fran Kirby. The young forward, Nikita Parris, had three assists and Scott added one assist. Gaetane Thiney pulled on back late for France, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the early deficit.
First Half Dominance
The Lionesses set the pace of the match early. England dominated possession from the start and started creating chances for themselves immediately. They broke through in the first 10 minutes as Duggan sent a ball to the right of the diving French keeper, Karima Benameur, and into the back of the net. The goal in the 6th minute gave England the early lead.
The offense didn’t let up the pressure on the French backline. The English back four also kept a strong defense and didn’t allow for many chances for the French. The Lionesses continued to impress and doubled their lead in the 28th minute after Scott sent a pass from Parris to the right past a diving Benameur.
The scoring didn’t stop there as Taylor made it 3-0 in the 39th minute after Parris disrupted the French defense, causing a takeaway then sending the ball on the group to the new Seattle Reign player who hesitated before sliding the ball past Benameur.
England finished the half with another solid chance as Kirby had space for a shot, but the ball bounced off the back of a French defender and the first 45 minutes ended with a corner kick that sailed out.
Slow Second Half
The second half of the match started the same way the first half ended. England controlled possession and created chances for themselves. They capitalized early when Scott sent the ball into the box to a running Kirby who sent it past Benameur in the 46th minute.
The rest of the match was a battle in the midfield with little chances for either side. The French side, however, were able to spoil the shutout that England was hoping for. France pulled one back in the 77th minute as Thiney took on the English backline and sent the ball off Lioness defender Millie Bright and to the left past the outreaching arms of goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.
The match marked the first for England since the firing of manager Mark Sampson in September of 2017 after much controversy surround racial remarks and romantic relationships throughout his four-year career as the head of the English women. This match was also the first for new coach Phil Neville who was hired in January to much uproar due to the fact that he has no previous experience in women’s football.
England will take on Germany next Sunday afternoon following the US game versus France at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The game after will be streamed on ESPN3.