Fran Kirby’s spectacular effort from outside the penalty area helped England to a 5-0 win over an already-eliminated Northern Ireland side, as the Lionesses concluded their group stage fixtures in style.
An Alessia Russo brace off the bench, a goal from Beth Mead, and a Kelsie Burrows own goal helped England maintain their 100% record at the tournament, but it was Kirby’s stunning effort which stole the show.
Speaking after the match, Kirby expressed her delight at the result..
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“Yeah, overall really happy with the result and the win, we wanted to make sure we had a positive start today and we did that,” she said.
“Even though the goal didn’t come straight away, I felt we had a really aggressive start from the off and overall we’re really, really happy with the win.”
Kirby broke the deadlock with a stunning effort from outside the penalty box in the 40th minute to give the Lionesses the lead, and called it a “special” moment.
“Yeah I mean it never changes scoring in a major tournament, luckily for me I’ve been able to score in every tournament I've played for England so far, so that’s a really special memory for me now,” she explained.
“I think I've been getting myself in good positions in previous games but maybe it hasn’t quite fallen for me, so today I just thought put your foot through it and see what happens, and lucky enough it went in the back of the net so I'm really happy about that.”
England will play either Spain or Denmark in the last eight, who face off on Saturday night for a shot at playing the hosts, and Kirby suggested that England will need the entire squad at their disposal in order to go as far as possible in the tournament.
“Yeah [we’re] really ready [for the quarter-finals],” she admitted.
“I think everyone who has handled themselves in the tournament so far has been amazing, I think everyone has put a shift in when they needed to, subs coming off the bench and making impacts in games, this is what we need in order to get to these places.
"But like you said, knockout tournament football is so different, it’s a case of who can be the freshest for longest and who can take their chances, so we need to get over this win, get our recovery right and get ready for the next game.”
Arjan Veurink stepped in for the absent Sarina Wiegman who contracted covid-19 and was forced to leave the camp, but despite a slow start, was happy with the performance.
“Yeah really happy with the result, we created lots of chances and scored a couple of good goals," he said.
“We struggled a little bit at the beginning of the first half, we couldn’t find the right spaces in my opinion, but I think after 30 minutes we found that space and you can see we have lots of quality in our team.”
Russo came off the bench to net twice in her first three touches to help England cruise to another thumping scoreline, and revealed she’s been taking tips from Arsenal and England legend Ian Wright.
“I enjoy every game in an England shirt and to come on and score is great,” she admitted. “Buzzing to get the three points and go on to the next stage of the tournament.
“I didn’t know that to be honest (scoring twice with her first three touches), but yeah, I luckily got in the right place at the right time and was able to put them in the back of the net.
“I was watching his (Wright’s) goals so maybe that inspired me a little bit. It was great to have him in, he’s an ambassador for our game and, yeah, it was great.”
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