England Women 2-1 Scotland Women: Lionesses hold off Scotland for opening World Cup win
Claire Emslie scores the first ever Scotland goal in Women's World Cup history
Last Updated: 10/06/19 2:08pm
England held off a second-half fightback from Scotland to win their opening match of the Women's World Cup 2-1 in Nice.
Nikita Parris opened the scoring from the spot after a VAR review penalised Nicola Docherty for a handball in the 12th minute, before Ellen White (40) - who earlier had a goal ruled out for offside - doubled the lead.
She was once again flagged offside 30 seconds into the second-half, ruling out Beth Mead's effort, as the Lionesses looked to be in control, but Scotland produced a wonderful second-half performance on their World Cup debut, and made it a nervy finish when Claire Emslie (79) chipped home.
But they could not produce a famous comeback as England took the three points.
How Scotland tested England
It was a controversial opening at the Allianz Riviera. In the 12th minute, referee Jana Adamkova signalled for a VAR review to look at a potential handball inside the area. Fran Kirby's cross had hit the arm of Docherty and, under new FIFA rules, was given as a penalty for handball. Parris stepped up to take among a cauldron of boos from the angry Scotland fans and hammered home to give England the lead.
Why did VAR award England a penalty?
The new handball rules came into effect on June 1. A deliberate handball is still an offence, but accidental handball will also be a free-kick or penalty if...
• The ball goes into the goal off an attacker.
• A player gets the ball using an arm or hand and then scores, or creates a goalscoring opportunity.
• The player's arm or hand is above their shoulder (unless the player has controlled the ball onto their own arm or hand).
• A player's hand or arm has made their body "unnaturally bigger".
It was the final point that referee Jana Adamkova and the VAR officials believed Nicola Docherty was guilty of - using her arms to make her body unnaturally bigger as she blocked Fran Kirby's cross.
The Lionesses continued to dominate and White forced a superb stop from Scotland goalkeeper Lee Alexander in the 22nd minute, who saved with an outstretched foot. White then had the ball in the back of the net a minute later after some superb vision from Keira Walsh for the forward pass - but White was clearly offside.
But the Man City forward did not miss on the 40-minute mark as she doubled England's lead. As England continued to pile on the pressure, Kirby slipped the ball into White's path and she curled a low effort past Alexander.
Scotland's best chance of the half came not long after. It was a wonderful strike from Erin Cuthbert - who looked the liveliest in attack for Shelley Kerr's side in the first half - after some sloppy England defending, but the ball just whistled past the post.
Just 30 seconds after the restart, England had another goal ruled out for offside. Parris swept the ball forward for White before she, in turn, squared it for Beth Mead to turn home. However, White was correctly flagged for offside and the goal was chalked off.
England: Bardsley (6), Bronze (7), Houghton (7), Bright (6), Greenwood (7), Walsh (7), Kirby (7), Scott (7), Parris (7), White (8), Mead (7).
Subs used: McManus (6), Carney (6), Stanway (6).
Scotland: Alexander (7), Howard, (7) Corsie (6), Beattie (6), Docherty (6), Evans (7), Murray (6), Little (7), Weir (7), Emslie (7), Cuthbert (7).
Subs used: Smith (5), Arthur (5), Arnot (n/a).
Man of the match: Ellen White.
Both goalkeepers were in action as the half wore on, with Alexander making another wonderful save in the 70th minute to palm away an effort from White at close range. Not long after, Karen Bardsley collected a sweeping effort from Lisa Evans as Scotland began to assert their dominance.
They deservedly scored in the 79th minute as Emslie made Scotland history by scoring their first ever goal at a World Cup. She got ahead of Alex Greenwood to collect a fine pass from Evans, before chipping over Bardsley at the near post, with the ball taking a slight deflection off Abbie McManus on the way through.
- Ellen White started ahead of Jodie Taylor in attack while Beth Mead also started in her first World Cup game. Karen Bardsley came in for Carly Telford in goal.
- Shelley Kerr made two changes from the side that beat Jamaica in a friendly ahead of the World Cup withChristie Murray and Sophie Howard coming in for Jane Ross and Kirsty Smith.
But England managed to keep their old rivals at bay in the final 15 minutes or so to pick up the first three points of Group D.
England won their opening match of a FIFA Women's World Cup tournament for the second time ever and the first time since 1995. They lost their opening match in 2015 and drew on MD1 in 2011 and 2007.
Nikita Parris' opening goal in this match was her 13th for England during her career, but the first from a penalty kick.
Ellen White has scored a goal in each of her last three international appearances for England against Scotland.
Karen Carney won her 141st cap for England in this match, overtaking Alex Scott's total of 140 caps for England Women. As a result, only Fara Williams (170) has more caps for England Women now.
Both Jill Scott and Karen Carney appeared in their fourth FIFA Women's World Cup for England - more than any other players in the history of the competition for the Lionesses.
Phil Neville: "We enjoyed the game and the victory. We played really well in the first half, we spoke all week about the style of football we want to play and I thought we did that in the first half. We got two really good goals, we could have had more and nearly had a third one just after half-time.
"I suppose the disappointment leaving the game, and it's the standards that we've set, is that in the second half, we needed to keep the ball better, particularly when the legs get heavy and we're getting fatigued.
"We have to keep driving those standards and being ruthless, but it's good to get the first game out of the way. I think everyone involved, both Scotland and England, can be proud that we're taking part in something really special.
"We've been given two talks by referees and both of them said that would be a penalty. I've not seen it, I just knew that the minute the referee came over, it was going to be a penalty. I thought there was one just after that which was even more blatant… but it got us off to a really good start."
Shelley Kerr: "In the first half, I was disappointed with our performance because I felt we could have played better. But a lot of credit has to go to England because I thought they played extremely well, especially from midfield to front. In the second half, we were better organised, we changed a couple of things tactically and we finished the game extremely well. The second-half performance is more like us and I was pleased with that. There were lots of positives.
"In the first instance, I thought the penalty was harsh. There are rules in place and it is a hard, hard job for the officials. VAR is there to help them and by the letter of the law, it is a penalty but I thought it was harsh."
Player of the match - Ellen White
It was somewhat of a surprise when White started ahead of Jodie Taylor, but she more than proved her worth up front. She created the most chances for England, linking up well with her attacking team-mates and took her goal superbly well in a frenzied period of play.
But she was twice caught offside with goals being ruled out. As the competition goes on, those could really start to cost England and with VAR being used, they will not be missed.
England will next be in action on Friday when they play another great footballing rival - Argentina. Scotland will take on Japan on the same day in Group D before the final group games on Wednesday 19 June at 8pm.