You can’t always get what you want but getting what you need often comes comfortably close. That’s the situation England find themselves in after winning their opening World Cup clash against Scotland 2-1. A convincing first-half performance saw them go in 2-0 at the break before a second half that left a fair bit to be desired.
An extremely iffy VAR decision awarded the Lionesses a penalty inside 15 minutes and punctuated what had begun as a engrossingly open encounter. Nikita Parris grabbed hold of the ball and placed it on the spot before walloping it into top bins, displaying the confidence of somebody playing their third World Cup finals, not their first. Ellen White then doubled their lead before the break with an exquisite finish.
The Tartan Army mounted an intense fightback in the second period but England rode the storm until a woeful mistake by the skipper Steph Houghton allowed Scotland back in. If the goal was the start of Scotland closing the stable doors however, the Auld Enemy were the horse that had already bolted with their impressive first half display carried them all the way to the finishing post.
They will have to imropve a notch or two to have any chance of going deep in France. That said, as we saw from the eventual winners last summer in Russia, World Cups are never won in the group stages and Phil Neville will be pleased that a tricky test was negotiated.
Karen Bardsley – Coped just fine on the couple of times she was called into action. She couldn’t have done much more in Scotland’s goal given the point-blank range. A big positive with the ball at her feet spraying passes out and starting attacks. 7/10
Alex Greenwood – Generally put in a decent shift but made one big mistake which led to Scotland’s goal, allowing Claire Emsley to get the wrong side of her. But the fault for that lies more so with individuals and shouldn’t muddy an otherwise tidy performance. 6/10
Millie Bright – A competent accomplice for her centre back partner until she suffered a nasty (if slightly comical) face plant as she busted a gut to win a tackle. She was forced off and it’s no coincidence that Scotland enjoyed their most threatening spell after that. Luckily, she should be okay for the next game. 7/10
Steph Houghton – Hard not to wince at the pass the captain skewed in such a precarious position leading to Scotland's goal. Apart from that, she was rarely troubled but that is as much to do with her intelligence and positioning as anything. 6/10
Lucy Bronze – Combined so well with Parris down the right. Should be wary of neglecting her defensive duties too much as appeared to be the case once or twice. Without a doubt one of the best full-backs in the world and a massive weapon in England’s arsenal. 8/10
Jill Scott – Dictated the pace of the game well in the middle of the park. Switched on throughout and alert to snuff out any danger. Never afraid to get stuck in, England's enforcer remains an important figure in the side. 7/10
Keira Walsh – Lucky not to concede in the first half when she gifted away possession. Struggled to get a foothold in the game and may have given Uncle Phil a decision to make for the Argentina game. 4/10
Nikita Parris – Converted a sensational penalty to get her side off to a flyer. Really impressive all-round display, especially potent on the ball and linking up with Bronze down the right wing. Has marked herself out as the key to England’s chances of going the distance in this tournament. 9/10
Fran Kirby – Has struggled for form lately but made a good effort to rekindle her sky-high ability of yester-season. Went close to scoring on 19 minutes with a decent shot that fizzed just wide. Her best contribution was pressing high up on the edge of Scotland’s penalty box which allowed White to score England’s second. 7/10
Beth Mead – A real threat down the left early on. Clearly enjoyed getting to the by-line and pulling it back and capable of troubling any side with her set-pieces. Had a goal correctly disallowed 30 minutes into the second half for offside (not her but in the build-up) and showed more desire than Gregg Wallace in the reduced section of Sainsbury’s in getting into a dangerous position. She will surely bag herself at least a goal at this tournament. 9/10
Ellen White – Tested the Scottish stopper more than once, firstly when she latched on to Bronze’s low cross at the near post in the first half. The 30-year-old defended from the front and had a goal ruled out for offside before the interval but was a tasty bit of skill all the same. When her chance came again, she grabbed it by the lapels, and, with ice in the veins, produced an excellent first-time finish into the corner to make it 2-0. The Man City star looks to have hit a purple patch at just the right time. After the restart, she forced the save of the match from Lee Alexander when she volleyed a corner which would have put the game to bed. 9/10
Abbie McManus – Brought on for the injured Bright and coped okay but a better last-ditch slide tackle would have prevented the Scotland goal. 5/10
Karen Carney – Effective at carrying the ball forward but the end product was lacking. 6/10
Georgia Stanway – Took a lay off from Parris and went very close to scoring but rather snatched at it. 6/10