England’s women opened their 2021 international season with a 6-0 thrashing of Northern Ireland in a friendly at St George’s Park, the first match since Phil Neville stepped down as head coach.
With Sarina Wiegman not taking over until later this year, it was a first game in charge for interim boss Hege Riise, who was brought in when Neville brought an early end to his notice period so that he could move to Inter Miami.
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Ellen White scored a hat-trick inside 49 minutes, while Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly and Ella Toone all chipped in with goals for the Lionesses, who were playing their first fixture in almost a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
White’s haul took her to 37 international goals, while Jill Scott was named captain ahead of regular skipper Steph Houghton in recognition of winning her 150th cap, becoming just the second women’s player to reach that landmark after Fara Williams, an achievement which was recognised by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Although the European Championships have been delayed until 2022, both sides have plenty to play for, with Team GB selection up for grabs ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
White opened the scoring in the 18th minute, slotting the ball home after being played in on the left, before she doubled the lead with a flick past visiting goalkeeper Becky Flaherty from a Bronze cross.
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The FIFA best women’s player of 2020 then got on the scoresheet herself, converting from close range after Lauren Hemp stole the ball.
White completed her hat-trick not long after the break, firing into the roof of the net from a Scott pass.
Daly got the fifth after beating a defender in the 67th minute, before substitute Toone completed the rout, scoring on her senior debut by converting a penalty after Chloe Kelly was brought down.
It ended a torrid afternoon for Northern Ireland, who failed to register a single shot all match.
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