Phil Neville says England Women need to be ruthless

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Last Updated: 10/06/19 4:24pm

Shelley Kerr says her side have bridged the gap to the Lionesses since their 6-0 loss at Euro 2017
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Shelley Kerr says her side have bridged the gap to the Lionesses since their 6-0 loss at Euro 2017

Phil Neville was delighted with England's first-half performance but disappointed by a dip after the break as they opened their Women's World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Scotland in Nice.

Nikita Parris' penalty and an Ellen White finish put the Lionesses 2-0 up in a first half they controlled, before their levels dropped and Scotland pulled one back as Claire Emslie netted in the 79th minute.

Scotland 'keeper Lee Alexander made saves to deny White and as the game went on, while the Scots came close to finding an equaliser on multiple occasions.

"We played really well in the first half," Neville said. "We played really adventurous, really high. We could have had more goals, and nearly had a third just after half-time.

"And then I suppose the disappointment leaving the game - and it's the standards that we have set - is that in the second half we needed to keep the ball better.

"So we have to keep driving those standards, we have to keep being ruthless.

Shelley Kerr says her side have bridged the gap to the Lionesses since their 6-0 loss at Euro 2017
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Shelley Kerr says her side have bridged the gap to the Lionesses since their 6-0 loss at Euro 2017

"We've got a long way to go to start talking about winning a World Cup, but we're going to give it our best shot.

"When I see [the team] play like they did for the first 60 minutes, we're a good team that will progress in the competition. If we drop our levels, then it makes life tougher."

Emslie scored after England captain Steph Houghton gave the ball away but Neville was keen to defend his captain, with the former England international pleased that she was trying to play the way he has instructed.

He said: "She gave it away trying to do the right thing. She was trying to make the pass that we practice, so I'm never going to criticise my players for that."

The penalty netted by Parris was awarded for handball via VAR, with referee Jana Adamkova pointing to the spot after watching back footage of Fran Kirby's cross striking Nicola Docherty on the arm.

Neville believes it was the correct decision and said: "We've been given two talks by referees, and the two talks we've had, one by a FIFA official and one by an official in England, both said that was going to be a penalty.

Nikita Parris opened the scoring for England from the penalty spot

"I didn't look at it - I just trusted that the minute the referee came over, I think it's going to be a penalty."

In Scotland's World Cup debut, manager Shelley Kerr took plenty of positives from the game.

"First half we were disappointed in terms of our performance," she said. "I thought the second half we were better organised and finished the game extremely well.

"It was more like us and I was pleased with that."

England's next game in the World Cup is on Friday against Argentina.