England Women thrashed Russia 6-0 in their opening Women’s World Cup Qualifier on the road to France 2019 on Tuesday night.
The home side led 4-0 at half-time at Prenton Park thanks to goals from Nikita Parris (11), Jodie Taylor (14), Jordan Nobbs (36) and Lucy Bronze (44).
The scoreline could have been worse for the visitors, though, after Ksenia Tsybutovich was sent off for giving away a penalty just past the half-hour mark, only for Fran Kirby to see her spot-kick saved.
However, Mark Sampson’s team made up for that miss by scoring twice more after the break through Barcelona’s Toni Duggan (57, 84) in front of more than 7,000 fans at Tranmere.
England dominated proceedings right from the kick-off, taking the lead after 11 minutes when Kirby and Parris played a neat one-two, before the latter beat Tatyana Shcherbak with a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.
England boss Mark Sampson made two changes from the side that lost to hosts Netherlands in the semi-finals of last summer’s Euros
And that early strike saw Parris run straight over to the touchline to embrace Sampson, along with the rest of her team-mates in what was a clear and obvious show of unity with their under-pressure manager.
Just three minutes later and the Lionesses doubled their advantage after Kirby’s gorgeous through-ball released Taylor, who made no mistake by beating Shcherbak with a cool finish for her sixth goal in her last five internationals.
The visitors’ challenge became all the harder when Tsybutovich, who had already been booked, was given a second yellow after handling Kirby’s goal-bound effort, only for Shcherbak to read Kirby’s mind and keep out the Chelsea player’s penalty.
That miss was soon forgotten, though, when Nobbs side-footed home her sixth goal for her country from close range and Bronze then completed the first-half scoring with the pick of the strikes, a beautifully struck volley that flew into the top right-hand corner of the net.
And it was the impressive Duggan who made it a more accurate reflection of the scoreline with two goals after the break, the first a composed finish after great play down the right between Kirby and Bronze, the second a simple finish after a terrible mistake at the back.
Player of the Match: Fran Kirby
The Chelsea forward was everywhere against Russia, playing a key role in England’s first, second, third and fifth goals, while her goalbound strike also led to the home side’s penalty on the half-hour mark.
So it was no surprise when she left the field to a standing ovation from the home fans with 20 minutes remaining.
England host Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kazakhstan in World Cup Qualifiers on November 24 and 28 respectively.