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Women’s World Cup qualifying: Russia 1-3 England

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Highlights: Russia 1-3 England

England moved back to the top of their World Cup qualifying group with a comfortable win over Russia in Moscow.

Manchester City forward Nikita Parris put the visitors in front with a header from Toni Duggan’s cross.

Two goals from Parris’ club-mate Jill Scott – either side of one from the hosts’ Elena Danilova – gave England a commanding lead before half-time.

Victory was the Lionesses’ third in six games since Phil Neville’s appointment as head coach in January.

The win, which puts England two points clear of Wales with two games left of the campaign to reach France 2019, came without injured captain Steph Houghton and the influential Izzy Christiansen and Jordan Nobbs.

England, for whom Arsenal defender Leah Williams made her debut in the second half, had slipped to second when Wales beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 on Thursday.

They face Wales in their next group match in August, before concluding their qualifying fixtures against Kazakhstan the following month.

Win shows strength in depth

England’s forwards were too mobile for the Russian defence to deal with

Since Neville’s appointment, England have risen to second in the Fifa rankings – their highest position.

But, speaking before this match, the former Manchester United defender said that “doesn’t mean much” if they don’t win silverware.

The Lionesses have never won the World Cup – and that is Neville’s aim in France next year.

First they must secure qualification, and this largely assured display against a team they thrashed 6-0 at Prenton Park in September moved them another step closer.

A major plus was the evidence of their strength in depth and adaptability.

Scott has missed their past two games with injury, not featuring since the 5-0 win over Kazakhstan in November, but had a compelling impact on her return.

Clever movement was behind both the 31-year-old’s goals, a header and side-footed finish.

The visitors looked comfortable on a potentially tricky artificial surface, having trained on the 3G pitch at St George’s Park to prepare.

The fluidity of their forward players – with Duggan, Fran Kirby and Parris rotating behind striker Ellen White – caused the hosts constant problems.

England in command despite Russian improvement

Lucy Bronze beat Netherlands forward Lieke Martens and Australia striker Sam Kerr to become the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018

Russia were poor defensively but caused the visitors more problems at the other end than last time they met.

England, though, dealt with almost everything thrown at them, barring Danilova’s goal.

Neville may wince when he watches it back, and right-back Lucy Bronze will not want to dwell on it for too long, either.

She can point to her assist for Scott’s goal as a bright point, but her mistake in failing to clear a routine ball allowed Russia to score a goal they barely merited.

However, the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year recovered her composure and the rest of the back four shone.

Notts County goalkeeper Carly Telford hardly put a foot wrong and saved well when Ekaterina Sochneva went through one on one in the second half.

Manchester City centre-back Abbie McManus then showed superb positional awareness to clear an awkward late cross as the hosts searched in vain for a way back.

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