England Women 4-1 France Women: Lionesses cruise on Phil Neville bow

Toni Duggan in action during the FIFA Women's World Cup Qualifier between England Women and Bosnia and Herzegovina Women at Banks's Stadium on November 24, 2017
Image: Toni Duggan struck in England's rout of France

Phil Neville's reign started in style as England Women thrashed France 4-1 in their opening SheBelieves Cup fixture in Ohio.

First-half goals from Toni Duggan, Jill Scott and Jodie Taylor had snuffed out the contest by half-time and Fran Kirby added further gloss within moments of the restart.

England's tempo dropped and Gaetane Thiney's deflected effort (77) blotted the copybook but Neville's side never looked like surrendering their hold on the game, their win over old foes only the second in 11 meetings.

The former Manchester United and Everton man's January appointment had been heavily scrutinised given his lack of managerial experience but a resounding display with ample attacking intent was a fine early response to critics he had claimed "wanted him to fail".

England, who face Germany and then hosts USA in the annual tournament, swiftly acclimatised to wet and windy conditions early and almost went ahead inside 90 seconds when Kirby drew a smart save from goalkeeper Karima Benameur.

But the Lionesses did take the lead in the seventh minute when Barcelona forward Duggan curled a Kirby lay-off into the far corner without breaking stride.

England, already without injured trio Steph Houghton, Jordan Nobbs and Karen Carney, lost the recalled Anita Asante to a knee problem but that setback did not break the early momentum.

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Taylor chipped an effort against the crossbar after Kirby had jinked into the box but the second came in the 28th minute when Scott side-footed into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

France were ragged and things got worse seven minutes before half-time when Nikita Parris split the defence with a smart through-ball and Taylor showed familiar instinct to poke home.

England returned at just as brisk a pace and Kirby added a fourth just seconds after the restart, bursting into the box to Scott's cut-back from 10 yards.

Neville had the luxury of taking off two of his goalscorers with 20 minutes remaining, replacing Duggan and Kirby with Izzy Christiansen and Ellen White respectively, clashes with former and current world champions likely on his mind.

France made changes of their own and one of them, Thiney, denied Neville a clean sheet with a shot from distance that took a hefty deflection off Millie Bright's shoulder to wrong-foot goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

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