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England thump Scotland but GB Olympic dream over 

Sports Desk | banglanews24.com
Update: 2023-12-06 10:00:20
England thump Scotland but GB Olympic dream over  [photo collected]

Ruthless England thumped Scotland in their final Women's Nations League group match but it was not enough to top the table after the Netherlands scored two injury-time goals against Belgium to deny them in a dramatic finish.

That means the Dutch are through to the Nations League semi-finals and, as a result of England's exit, Team GB now will not be in the Paris 2024 Olympics football competition.

England needed to better the Netherlands' result by three clear goals to reach the Nations League finals and keep Team GB's Olympic hopes alive.

A determined first half saw goals from Alex Greenwood, Lauren James with two and Beth Mead before Fran Kirby made it 5-0 just after the break.

But as the game entered stoppage time, the Dutch went 3-0 up against Belgium and the Lionesses needed to produce a sixth goal to put qualification back in their sights.

Lucy Bronze delivered in the 93rd minute with a headed effort but, as relief seemed to take hold at full-time, the Netherlands scored a dramatic fourth goal to ensure they won the group ahead of England.

England would have secured Team GB's place in Olympics football had they reached the Nations League final.

As England huddled at full-time to await the result of the Netherlands match having scored six goals, they must have felt they had done enough to progress.

The odds were heavily stacked against the Lionesses with a three-goal margin separating them from the Dutch, but they were in fine goalscoring form in Glasgow and the mountain they had to climb started to look smaller.

Greenwood's header had opened the scoring before James' deflected shot found the back of the net one minute before she curled an effort into the top corner.

Mead marked her first England start since recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury with a stunning finish into the top right corner before Kirby poked home from Georgia Stanway's cutback four minutes after the break to make it five.

England did not celebrate any of the goals, each time picking the ball out of the back of the net and racing back to the halfway line to go again, knowing they needed a significant margin to top the group.

Ultimately, even a six-goal win was not enough and questions will be asked about England's performances in this Nations League campaign after they lost to the Netherlands and Belgium away and needed a last-minute goal to beat the Dutch at Wembley on Friday.

When it mattered, the Lionesses were ruthless, but mistakes and missed opportunities earlier in the campaign will be scrutinised as the European champions miss out.

In the build-up to the match, both camps were quick to dismiss the idea that Scotland may go easy on their closest rivals as a heavy loss would benefit Scottish players' chances of appearing in Paris.

Scotland captain Rachel Corsie said on Monday it was "disrespectful" and "outrageous" to question her team's integrity while England defender Lucy Bronze said it was "the rudest thing ever".

Already consigned to last place and relegation to League B in the Nations League, Pedro Martinez Losa's side had nothing to play for but pride.

But while Scotland's efforts should not be questioned - Claire Emslie saw her effort flash just wide and Kirsty Hanson missed the target after beating Mary Earps - the gap in quality was exposed on a freezing night in Glasgow.

Scotland crumbled in a dominant first half from England but Kirby's goal just after half-time took some of the urgency out of the game and forward Martha Thomas' arrival from the bench woke the home side up.

A nervy final period saw the Tottenham striker's header well saved by Earps and a goal from the home side at 5-0 would have denied England's progression - and in turn Team GB's hopes of competing at the Games.

A six-goal defeat is, in itself, disappointing for Scotland but some of their players will be equally dejected not to have the chance to represent Team GB next summer in Paris.

Source: BBC

BDST: 1000 HRS, DEC 06, 2023
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