Needing a comprehensive victory at Hampden Park on Tuesday to keep any slender hopes of a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics alive, Sarina Wiegman’s England descended on Glasgow with one task on their minds.
A power of conflict descended upon Hampden Park pre-match, a place for Team GB at Paris Olympics 2024 up for grabs – so much was at stake. For England, the assignment was simple: be ruthless, score a few goals and hope for some luck elsewhere.
SCO: Gibson; Mukandi, Clark, Corsie; Docherty, Kerr, Cuthbert, McLaughlan; Evans; Emslie, Hanson
ENG: Earps; Charles, Greenwood, Morgan, Bronze; Kirby, Walsh, Stanway; James, Hemp, Mead
Sarina Wiegman’s side made their intentions known from the off, playing on the ascendancy with the formidable Lucy Bronze being a vocal point on the flanks, starting attacks but also playing with composure. A carved pass found Beth Mead, but she was caught by the offside trap when through on goal.
The deadlock was broken on 12 minutes when Mead exhibited her divine qualities once again with a great delivery from the right-hand side that found the unmarked Alex Greenwood, who instinctively guided a fine header past the stranded Lee Gibson. Scotland have been renowned for how vulnerable they’ve been over the Nations League and this goal was another prime example.Embed from Getty Images
The hosts didn’t back down and gave England some icy chills on a cold evening in Glasgow – they were hard dealt with on 16 minutes when a lapse in concentration defensively saw Lisa Evans trot in and get bundled over inside the area, but referee Ionela Alina Pesu waved away the loud claims.
Things were looking rosy for the World Cup finalists – 1-0 up, comfortable and always posing a threat in the final third, but an incredible miss was beginning to tell another story. Lauren James put one on a plate for Lauren Hemp but it crashed off the post. Soon after, the Netherlands went 1-0 up in Tilburg, though a long evening was still young.
Panic? Never! On 38 minutes, it was 2-0, as a set-piece only came as far as Lauren James who deflated the Scotland backline with a deflected shot off Nicola Docherty catching Lee Gibson out by surprise.
A piece of quality by the 22-year-old then had the statement files cranked up a notch as England looked to up the ante at their fiercest rival, with the Chelsea midfielder taking the ball in her stride before rifling home a 25-yard effort past experienced Scotland shotstopper Gibson.Embed from Getty Images
By half-time, it was 4-0, courtesy of who else but Beth Mead. James picked out the Arsenal playmaker and she only had one thing on her mind, and that was finding the top corner with precision. The job was seemingly done so far but a massive 45 minutes lied ahead for England and the dimension of the group.
The England juggernaut continued in the second half as three minutes after the restart it was five goals to the good for the Lionesses. Georgia Stanway did well to get to the byline before picking out Fran Kirby neatly who kept her composure to slide home a tidy move from the visitors. It would be potentially a decisive goal for England topping the group and ultimately, the representation for Team GB at Olympics next year.
Scotland showed a lot more desire in the final ten minutes as Mary Earps almost provided a calamity for England beforehand, but Martha Thomas couldn’t get her shot away after a pass-back almost gave the hosts a chance to get some form of pride back into the match.
Despite the apparent advantage for Wiegman’s side, there was still an anxious feel to Hampden in the final five minutes with a possible twist in the tale still to come – and that almost happened in stoppage time, as a cross came into the box that was headed goalwards by Thomas, requiring a strong hand by Earps.
It was always going to end in a bizarre fashion – and either side of the Lucy Bronze’s sixth goal in stoppage time, the Netherlands netted twice to ensure the Oranjeleeuwinnen progress to the semifinals of the inaugural UEFA Women’s Nations League at England’s expense.Embed from Getty Images
This game could be described in so many words: joy and ecstasy in a commanding performance, but little margin for error has forced England into disappointment. The Netherlands are joined in the semifinals by Germany, France and Spain, with the draw set to take place on Monday.