Joy for Lionesses and Phil Neville as England Women clinch World Cup place



Posted Saturday, September 01, 2018 by PA

Joy for Lionesses and Phil Neville as England Women clinch World Cup place

England Women booked their place at next year’s World Cup in France by coming out on top 3-0 in their winner-takes-all clash against Wales.

Toni Duggan, Jill Scott and Nikita Parris scored the second-half goals as the weight of the Lionesses’ pressure finally told in Newport.

Phil Neville’s England will complete their fixtures in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, while Wales must rely on results elsewhere going their way to make the play-offs.

The two sides had drawn 0-0 at Southampton in April and Wales knew victory would secure the nation’s first appearance at a World Cup since John Charles and company reached Sweden in 1958.

Wales had not conceded a goal in their previous seven qualifiers, but their defence was finally breached after 687 minutes when Duggan swept home in the 57th minute.

Scott struck three minutes later with a looping header before Parris claimed her sixth goal of the campaign from close range.

Wales had limited England’s following to only 250 by choosing the 5,000-capacity Rodney Parade as the venue for this crunch fixture.

Jess Fishlock, Wales’ most capped player, had called on the home fans to “rattle” the Lionesses and make it an unpleasant night for them.

Wales had also attempted to negate England’s superior passing game by bringing in the touchlines and reducing the pitch to the smallest dimensions permitted by FIFA.

The Dragons made a positive start with Kylie Nolan’s surge ending with a blocked shot and Rhiannon Roberts heading wide from the resulting corner.

England’s nerves should have been eased in the sixth minute when Alex Greenwood’s effort deflected off Hayley Ladd and looped on to the crossbar.

The ball fell kindly for Parris who looked to have added to her World Cup tally by turning the ball home, but English joy was curtailed by an incorrect offside decision.

Angharad James tested Karen Bardsley with a thumping drive but England were beginning to dictate the tempo of the contest.

Scott probed from midfield and full-backs Greenwood and Lucy Bronze ventured forward with menace, but the Lionesses were betrayed by too many misplaced passes and a lack of composure in the final third.

Jordan Nobbs was wayward from 20 yards and Parris’ scuffed shot was easily held by Wales goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan.

Wales lifted the growing siege to claim a penalty when Kayleigh Green fell under the challenge of the onrushing Bardsley.

The England goalkeeper appeared to make contact with the ball and Green’s theatrical fall would not have impressed Hungarian referee Katalin Kulcsar.

O’Sullivan had looked suspect under the high ball for most of the first period, but she showed safe handling skills to clutch Duggan’s free-kick at the base of a post just before the break.

But Duggan finally broke Welsh resistance when Jodie Taylor challenged O’Sullivan and Fran Kirby squared the ball to the unmarked Barcelona star.

Scott gave England breathing space by meeting Bronze’s clever ball and, when Parris pounced on O’Sullivan spilling Greenwood’s 69th-minute free-kick, Welsh dreams of winning the group were over.

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