Let’s go out to beat the Belgians!
ENGLAND’S JILL SCOTT PREVIEWS FINAL GAME:
ENGLAND need only a draw with Belgium on Tuesday to finish top of their Euro 17 qualifying group. But, says midfielder Jill Scott, the Lionesses are determined to end on a winning note as they look to put the record straight in Leuven.
Manchester City star Scott hit a late equaliser when the teams met at Rotherham in April, the 1-1 draw spoiling England’s otherwise 100 per cent record that continued with Thursday evening’s 5-0 thrashing of Estonia at Meadow Lane.
Arsenal striker Danielle Carter took the plaudits with a hat-trick – her second in two matches against Estonia – at the Notts County ground, but Scott also kept up an impressive scoring record that has been barely noticed.
The 29-year-old former Sunderland and Everton player has scored in five of England’s seven Euro 17 qualifiers to date, most crucially in the 1-0 home win against Bosnia & Herzegovina, followed by that 1-1 draw with Belgium.
As she looked ahead to Tuesday’s return fixture, in which she is set to win her 111th cap, Scott said: “At the beginning of this campaign I sat down with (head coach) Mark (Sampson) and he said he wanted me to be getting more goals.
“I agreed with him and I’ve been working hard on doing that. I’m happy that I’ve got a few during the campaign – even though they’ve all been from only two or three yards out, like the one I scored on Thursday!
“I was delighted for Dan, who was back in the team for the first time since she hit a hat-trick on her debut against Estonia last year and did the same again with some excellent finishing at Meadow Lane.
“It was another good win for us and it’s set us up nicely for Tuesday’s game in Belgium.
“It will probably be as tough as the one at Rotherham, where they played really well and made it very difficult for us after they’d taken an early lead.
“They’re big, strong and physical, and, with pace up front, they’ve got a good outlet for counter-attacks. My equaliser came only a few minutes from time, so the feeling was relief more than anything when the ball hit the net.
“To be honest, our performance that day wasn’t our best, not by any means.
“We’ll be looking to put the record straight on Tuesday with a performance that shows we totally deserve to be going to the Euro finals.”
Having already qualified for the finals, to be played in the Netherlands next summer, the result in Leuven will not affect England in any material respect, other than their finishing position in the qualifying group table.
Pride is at stake, though, let alone a 14-year unbeaten record in qualifying for major tournaments, so the Lionesses will be focused on not just getting the point they need to top the group but a campaign-ending victory, insists Scott.
“I’ve never been in a team that goes out to play for a draw,” she said. “That’s a dangerous approach that can play into your opponent’s hands. “We want to win the game and end the campaign in style, then start our preparations for the finals. They’re ten months away and there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure we’re ready to perform in Holland.”
GET CARTER: England called up the Arsenal star, who responded with a hattrick
BOSS: Mark Sampson GREAT SCOTT: England’s Jill Scott scores the second goal against Estonia