Eng­land rout Kaza­khstan with Nikita Par­ris to the fore in World Cup qual­i­fier

The Guardian Australia - - Sport - Paul MacInnes at We­ston Homes Com­mu­nity Sta­dium

If this was Mo Mar­ley’s last match as Eng­land’s in­terim coach she left with a smile on her face and a 100% record af­ter an­other com­fort­able vic­tory in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing.

Mar­ley was char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally mod­est af­ter­wards, al­most re­luc­tant to ad­mit her hat is in the ring to re­place Mark Samp­son as full-time coach. She will have a de­brief with the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion that will also pass as an in­ter­view next week. Her work with the squad over the past three matches, and her pub­lic at­ti­tude which has won her plau­dits, will hardly do her any harm.

“I gave the play­ers a cou­ple of re­flec­tions af­ter the match, I thanked them for em­brac­ing the way I’ve worked and ap­plauded them be­cause we’ve done a job‚” Mar­ley said. “I en­joy it. It’s a priv­i­lege to be as­so­ci­ated with Eng­land teams, of what­ever age group.

“There’ll be a de­brief, we’ll re­flect and put a plan to­gether for mov­ing for­ward. The dis­cus­sion will in­clude where I fit into that. But the main thing is I want English women to win the World Cup as much as the English pub­lic do.”

Mar­ley ad­mit­ted she had to de­liver a stern half-time team talk be­fore the Lionesses ul­ti­mately over­came a lim­ited Kazakh side. With three play­ers mak­ing their first start, and a fluid 4-3-3 for­ma­tion, Eng­land strug­gled to make their dom­i­nance count be­fore the break.

With an op­po­si­tion who at their most ad­ven­tur­ous played five at the back (but more of­ten six or more), Eng­land’s foot­ball needed to be fast and pre­cise. Through­out the match it was Nikita Par­ris to whom they looked to pro­vide those qual­i­ties.

The Manch­ester City winger, earn­ing her 17th cap, was a con­stant out­let, with pace, trick­ery and close con­trol. She scored twice, earned a penalty and could have had more goals but, at 23, was earn­ing only her 18th cap. “I’ve al­ways known Nikki’s po­ten­tial,” Mar­ley said. “She’s im­prov­ing year on year, but most im­por­tantly is play­ing reg­u­larly and play­ing well for her club.”

Par­ris was one of six Manch­ester City play­ers to start the match and four were in­volved in the open­ing goal in the 15th minute, Par­ris drew the Kazakh de­fence be­fore pass­ing to Keira Walsh, the mid­fielder mak­ing her Eng­land de­but. She whipped the ball in and Jill Scott stepped over it, creat­ing space for Melissa Law­ley. Eng­land’s other winger took a touch, shim­mied , com­posed her­self and chipped the ball home.

Eng­land did not dou­ble their lead un­til the 63rd minute thanks to Fran Kirby, who con­verted a penalty with her first touch of the ball.

Five min­utes later Par­ris de­servedly got on the score­sheet with the best goal of the match, tim­ing her run for Scott’s through­ball to per­fec­tion be­fore lash­ing her shot into the roof of the net. The winger dou­bled her tally in the 76th minute and the sub­sti­tute Izzy Chris­tiansen com­pleted the scor­ing. Eng­land go into their win­ter break in good form and with new op­tions on the field. The main ques­tion re­mains who will be in charge.

Eng­land’s Fran Kirby, cen­tre, cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing her side’s se­cond from the penalty spot dur­ing the World Cup qual­i­fier against Kaza­khstan. Pho­to­graph: Dan Mul­lan/Getty Images

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