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France 1 (Thiney 77)>
England 4 (Duggan 7, Scott 28, Taylor 39, Kirby 47)
France 1 (Thiney 77)
Phil Neville's reign as England Women's head coach began with a resounding 4-1 win over France in the opening match of the SheBelieves Cup at the MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.
Toni Duggan opened the scoring early on, Jill Scott added a second and Jodie Taylor nabbed a third before half time. Fran Kirby got in on the act just moments after the restart and although Gaetane Thiney registered a late consolation, the Lionesses never looked in danger as they laid down a marker at the beginning of this annual friendly tournament.
A blustery Ohio wind aided England's cause in the first half and they made the most of that advantage as early as the sixth minute when Duggan broke the deadlock. Lucy Bronze, captain in the absence of the injured Steph Houghton, found the impressive Nikita Parris with a throw in. Parris moved the ball onto Fran Kirby who laid it off to Duggan on the left hand side of the box - and the 26-year-old curled a low shot into the far corner for the first goal of the Neville regime.
They were dealt a blow just moments later, though, when Anita Asante, who was making her first international appearance since 2014, caught her studs in the turf and had to be replaced by debutant Abbie McManus.
Taylor, top scorer at Euro 2017, came close to doubling the lead when her 18-yard chip bounced down off the crossbar and Karima Benameur gathered the loose ball.
However, with France a shadow of their former selves, England did eventually make their dominance count when Scott sidefooted home from the edge of the area just before the half hour mark.
It got even better for England before the break, after Scott dispossessed a pedestrian Lauren Georges in midfield and gave the ball to Parris, the in-form Man City forward found Taylor with a wonderfully weighted pass. The sharpshooter did the rest, slipping the ball underneath Benameur for a third goal to round off a fantastic half for the Lionesses.
The result was put beyond doubt just two minutes after the restart when England sliced open the French defence once more and Kirby converted a low cross by Scott.
France were hapless throughout but they did reduce arrears on 77 minutes when Thiney's 20-yard strike hit Millie Bright and wrongfooted Karen Bardsley for a mere consolation.
Having gone 43 years without beating the French, England have now won two of the last three meetings. Their second SheBelieves Cup match is against Germany on Sunday night.
England: Karen Bardsley (sub Carly Telford 83mins), Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes (sub Alex Greenwood 87mins), Keira Walsh, Anita Asante (sub Abbie McManus 14mins), Millie Bright, Nikita Parris (sub Melissa Lawley 61mins), Jill Scott, Jodie Taylor, Fran Kirby (sub Izzy Christansen 71mins), Toni Duggan (sub Ellen White 71mins). Subs not used: Fara Williams, Hannah Blundell, Siobhan Chamberlain, Rachel Daly, Georgia Stanway, Gabrielle George.
France: Karima Benameur, Eve Perisset, Sakina Karchaoui, Laura Georges, Griedge Mbock Bathy, Armandine Henry, Kadidiatou Diani (sub Vivianne Asseyi 61mins), Faustine Robert (sub Gaetene Thiney 61mins), Eugenie Le Sommer, Aminata Diallo, Ouleymata Sarr (sub Valerie Gauvin 74mins). Subs: Aissatou Tounkara, Estelle Cascarino, Amel Majri, Maeva Clemaron, Marie-Charlotte Leger, Sarah Bouhaddi, Marion Torrent, Solene Durand, Grace Geyoro.
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