England urged to up game against Spain side who will 'fall over' more than Scots

20 July 2017 10:54

Mark Sampson has told England's players to step it up a gear for Sunday's clash with Spain despite setting a new Women's European Championship record by winning 6-0 against Scotland.

And manager Sampson has also warned that Spain might seize any opportunity to "fall over" to win decisions when the teams meet in Breda.

After a stunning opening to their Group D campaign in Holland, which saw them surpass the highest victory margin by any side in the history of the tournament, England are determined to show it was just the start of something much bigger.

They covet the trophy that Germany have won six times in a row, and England's opening performance suggested they could deliver, with Jodie Taylor's hat-trick putting her in a strong position already to finish as the competition's top scorer.

"We know it's a work in progress. We're not the finished product yet. We're fighting to be the best we can be," Sampson said.

"As I always say to the players, with every good performance they can put in, it excites me even more about how far they can go.

"That was the exciting part of our game against Scotland - the coaching staff were as excited as the players to watch this team play.

"We've seen the quality in training. We've seen the intensity. I've seen the raise of level over the last 12 months in terms of the quality of play.

"It was always a matter of time before this team would get better."

Jordan Nobbs, Ellen White and Barcelona's new signing Toni Duggan added to Taylor's haul as rampant England made it a dismal major tournament debut for the Scots, and a great night for Sampson.

The 34-year-old Welshman added: "An exciting part is seeing how good we can become over the next hopefully five matches.

"These players enjoy the pressure - they thrive under it. This is the stage they were born to be at, so we're excited already for Sunday.

"We know we'll have to produce a performance as good if not better.

"We've got to get our heads around Spain. We've got a difficult game on Sunday.

"Spain will be different to Scotland. They'll probably fall over a bit more. So we need to be ready for that challenge."

Sampson led England to third place at the last World Cup, and heavy investment in women's football by the Football Association means the team are expected to challenge for trophies now.

A group-stage failure at Euro 2013 was a nadir for England, and the subsequent sacking of Hope Powell and appointment of the enthusiastic Sampson as her successor has transformed the mentality of the squad.

Sampson constantly tells his players they can be the world's best, and that was again the message after they handed Scotland a drubbing.

"This team's getting it. They're really starting to believe in their talent now," Sampson said.

"We always did, as a group of staff. We felt we had some world-class players, we could be the best team in the world, and we still fundamentally believe that.

"We're completely confident we'll get there but we've got to keep working hard to get there."

Sampson also had praise for the three players who came off the England bench, with the match effectively won at 4-0, to press their claims to be more heavily involved later in the tournament.

Nikita Parris, Karen Carney and Duggan were brought on to replace the front three of Taylor, White and Fran Kirby, who had tormented the Scotland defence.

"We're really pleased with the whole team's performance and the impact of the finishers as well: Carney, Duggan and Parris," Sampson said.

"Parris on her tournament debut showed great maturity and confidence coming on, Carney delivered a great ball for Jordan's goal and Duggan, to get off the mark at a major championships is something she deserved.

"She's put in a great amount of work particularly in the last six months to grow as a person and as a player."

Source: PA