England suffer cruel late Nations League heartbreak despite thumping Scotland win | OneFootball

Icon: Evening Standard

Evening Standard

·5 December 2023

England suffer cruel late Nations League heartbreak despite thumping Scotland win

Article image:England suffer cruel late Nations League heartbreak despite thumping Scotland win
Article image:England suffer cruel late Nations League heartbreak despite thumping Scotland win

In the most ridiculous circumstances, the Lionesses beat Scotland 6-0 at Hampden Park yet failed to reach the Nations League finals by virtue of the Netherlands scoring a 95th-minute fourth goal of their own, 688 miles away.

Sarina Wiegman said she wanted her side to “go wild” in attack, and they needed to in order to produce a three-goal swing on whatever result the Dutch achieved against Belgium in Tilburg.


OneFootball Videos


The Lionesses were in a mighty rush at Hampden Park and took the first baby steps on their canter to victory when an unmarked Alex Greenwood scored her first England goal in over two years by heading home Beth Mead’s corner.

Scotland had penalty appeals waved away when Lucy Bronze was only adjudged to have shoulder-barged Lisa Evans, and soon they had their first shot on target when Rachel McLauchlan’s goal-bound cross was parried by Mary Earps, keen to make amends for her display at Wembley in Friday’s 3-2 comeback win over the Netherlands.

Mead soon failed to control Keira Walsh’s beautiful long pass, and Lauren Hemp inexplicably struck the post from just a few yards out. Then news from Tilburg came in that Lineth Beerensteyn had added to her double at Wembley on Friday by putting the Dutch ahead against Belgium.

If the Netherlands remained in the lead, the Lionesses would need to win 4-0. England’s challenge of racking up the goals suddenly looked a hefty one. Until it didn’t any longer.

Within a minute, 1-0 became 3-0 as Lauren James netted a quick-fire double just as her team-mates had at Wembley on Friday. First she cut onto her left foot and a shot which deflected wildly off Nicola Docherty totally wrong-footed goalkeeper Lee Gibson for 2-0.

Then she scored an absolute belter, dropping her shoulder and smashing an effort which curled into the top corner. A reminder of her quality, and of England’s.

Article image:England suffer cruel late Nations League heartbreak despite thumping Scotland win

Beth Mead scored her first England goal for 15 months at Hampden Park

The FA via Getty Images

Then in almost the final action of a first half England totally dominated, Mead plucked James’s pass from the sky and stabbed the ball past Gibson for the fourth goal that - if it stayed 1-0 in Tilburg - would secure England’s passage to February’s Nations League finals.

Three Scotland changes at the break told a story all of their own. Manager Pedro Martinez Losa was not happy. And he was about to get only more peeved when Georgia Stanway persevered down the right flank and cut back for Fran Kirby to arrive in the box and prod home England’s fifth.

And it was just as well she did. Beerensteyn helped herself to a second brace in five days and suddenly Kirby’s goal was the all-important strike keeping the Lionesses above the Netherlands in Nations League Group A1.

Kirby soon hit the crossbar as England hunted their sixth, but by the time Alessia Russo and Ella Toone were introduced from the bench for added impetus, the pace of the game had slowed.

It did not pick up again until Martha Thomas’s header was denied by an outrageous reaching save by Earps - the ball then crashing off Lucy Bronze and the post but somehow staying out.

Article image:England suffer cruel late Nations League heartbreak despite thumping Scotland win

Lucy Bronze thought her last-gasp goal was enough to take England through

The FA via Getty Images

England almost had the cruellest of heartbreaks when the Dutch scored a third of their own in injury time. But they were above England for less than a minute.

Astonishingly, with the last action of the game, Bronze stole in to head England’s sixth into the net. England were there.

But that cruellest of heartbreak mentioned earlier did arise at the death. Damaris Egurrola netted a 95th-minute goal that earned the Netherlands a 4-0 win and denied England their Nations League finals place and Team GB’s chances of Olympic qualification, too.

View publisher imprint