England hold off Scotland rally to open World Cup campaign with win


England Women3Ellen White (left was a menace all game as she chased down lost causes

England opened their World Cup campaign with a narrow victory over rivals Scotland in a game where they showed glimpses of their potential.

After an open start, Nikita Parris scored from the spot on her World Cup debut after the penalty was awarded following a video assistant referee review.

Ellen White doubled the advantage before the break as Phil Neville’s team dominated the first half.

But Scotland, who were making their World Cup debut and are ranked 17 places below England at 20th in the world, took advantage as their opponents eased off in the second half and Claire Emslie slotted in from close range after Steph Houghton’s poor pass.

Although they could not muster an equaliser, Shelley Kerr’s side vastly improved on their performance in the 6-0 defeat against England at Euro 2017, before the Scotland head coach was appointed.

And their tenacity should hold them in good stead in their remaining Group D games when they face Japan, ranked seventh in the world, and then Argentina, who are 37th, as they seek to reach the knockout stages.

For England, it was a mixed performance, which summed up their warm-up results coming into the tournament.

They looked confident all over the pitch in the first half after head coach Neville named what looked like his strongest starting team.

But after the break they fell short of producing the quality which Neville believes can take them to their first World Cup title, having finished third at the 2015 edition.

The result will be a relief for the former Manchester United and England defender, who is taking part in his first World Cup as a player or manager, and he will have been impressed by the performances from White, Parris and Lucy Bronze.

However, he will also know that similar hesitancy against more fancied nations could prove costly later in the tournament.