England in seventh heaven

14 June 2014 05:16

England women made it seven wins from seven World Cup qualifiers after beating Belarus 3-0 in Minsk.

Two goals in six first-half minutes from Eniola Aluko and Steph Houghton helped Mark Sampson's side to a 2-0 lead before Lucia Bronze's impressive long-range effort with virtually the last kick of the game wrapped up a comprehensive victory.

England, who top Group Six with 21 points, face Ukraine on Thursday in Lviv in the next round of World Cup qualifiers and are all but guaranteed a place at the 2015 finals in Canada.

Karen Carney had England's first effort on goal in the seventh minute, but she could not find a way past Belarus goalkeeper Inna Botyanovskaya, who saved from close range.

Aluko was guilty of missing a couple of decent chances but she made amends by opening the scoring on the half-hour mark after Fara Williams had sent a probing free-kick into the Belarus penalty area. Her clinical finish took her to 21 goals in 78 England appearances.

England were 2-0 up nine minutes from the interval when Houghton finished off another impressive passage of play from Williams, the Manchester City defender notching her seventh England goal in her 42nd apearance for her country.

Sampson would have been happy with his side's first-half display and, in reality, they could have been leading by more than two goals against Belarus, who they thrashed 6-0 in their opening qualifier in September.

For all their dominance, England could not add to their lead in the early exchanges of the second half.

Alex Scott probed down the right flank in the 69th minute but her cross-shot sailed just over the crossbar with Botyanovskaya caught unaware.

Houghton had the chance to score her second and England's third of the match when Jade Moore won a free-kick in a promising area 10 minutes from time, but her effort on goal sailed high over the crossbar.

The third goal came in the fifth minute of stoppage time but was definitely worth the wait. A Williams corner was half-cleared by the Belarus defence and Bronze unleashed an unstoppable low drive from just inside the penalty area that nestled firmly in the bottom right-hand corner.

Source: PA