England ran out comfortable winners in the “Battle of Britain” encounter in Utrecht on Wednesday night, largely thanks to a hat trick from Jodie Taylor in a commanding 6-0 victory.
Manager Mark Sampson moved away from recent formations such as 4-4-2 or 3-5-2, opting to play a simple 4-2-3-1 system with Arsenal’s Taylor taking the No. 9 role.
Despite an early scare when Jane Ross forced Manchester City teammate Karen Bardsley to tip her effort from range over the crossbar in the first 20 seconds, Sampson’s Lionesses were well in control of the encounter.
Looking for their first win in an opening game of a major tournament since 2005, Taylor opened the scoring after 10 minutes, latching onto Jade Moore’s through=ball after a nifty dummy from Fran Kirby.
From that point, England never looked back. Anna Signeul’s side relied on corners as they looked for a way back in, but their hopes were dashed when Taylor added her second before the half-hour mark.
After Lucy Bronze’s goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by Caroline Weir, Taylor hooked home to put England in the driver’s seat.
Five minutes later, it was three. Jill Scott let rip from all of thirty yards and was unfortunate to see her effort rebound off the crossbar, but Birmingham’s Ellen White was there to continue her good form in a white shirt.
Scotland found themselves too deep on several occasions, leaving lone striker Jane Ross isolated and unable to make an impact on the game.
Shortly after the break, England found a fourth, and it was an historic moment for Taylor. Her lob over Gemma Fay from White’s knockdown ensured she became the first player to score a European Championship hat trick since France’s Angélique Roujas 20 years ago.
Ross’s night would end early when a rough challenge from club teammate Steph Houghton left her needing ice on her shoulder once she was replaced by birthday girl, Erin Cuthbert. It was a challenge that also saw the captain pick up England’s first caution of the tournament.
Scotland did have a chance for a consolation, substitute Lana Clelland drilled an effort into the side netting as Sampson introduced a trio of attacking changes with the hope of topping up England’s goal difference.
Karen Carney, Nikita Parris, and Toni Duggan were all introduced, the latter bringing a good save out of Fay as the Lionesses searched for a fifth.
They found it as the clock ticked down toward 90; Jordan Nobbs had threatened since the first minute to get herself on the score sheet, and she did in style with a thumping effort after Carney’s cross was cleared.
There was even time for a sixth. Duggan headed home a corner with quite literally the last kick of the game to wrap up a superb performance.
The performance was everything it needed to be from England, commanding and convincing ahead of Sunday’s tough matchup against Jorge Vilda’s Spain side.
Referee: Esther Staubli (Switzerland)
Bardsley; Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes; Nobbs, Moore, J. Scott, White (Carney, 74′); Taylor (Duggan. 59′), Kirby (Parris. 65′.)
Unused Subs: Chamberlain, Telford, Potter, Christiansen, Williams, Bassett, Greenwood, Stokes
Fay; Fr. Brown, Dieke, Barsley, Arthur; Corsie (Love, 76′); Evans, Crichton, Weir; Fi. Brown (Clelland, 46′); J. Ross (Cuthbert. 64′)
Unused Subs: Lynn, Alexander, J. Murray, L. Ross, Lauder, Howard, C. Murray, McLauchlan, Smith