ENGLAND women comfortably dispatched of Sweden with a resounding 4-0 win at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park.
A brace from Karen Carney and a goal each for Fran Kirby and Lianne Sanderson saw off the Swedes who are ranked fifth in the world, three places above the Lionesses but on this evidence FIFA wouldn’t go far wrong addressing the standings.
Four North-East players started the game, Jordan Nobbs starting right-wing at the home of her father’s, Keith.
Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton started at centre-back, flanked by Demi Stokes at left-back.
The fifth North-Easterner, Jill Scott, came on in the second-half.
Fara Williams, in midfield, made her 137th appearance, a new international record.
And in her long, illustrious England career she may never have seen such a bizarre penalty that opened the scoring on 34 minutes.
Nobbs’ centre was met by Carney who was felled.
From the ensuing penalty Carney struck the post but her follow-up somehow managed to roll past goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
Controversy immediately shrouded the goal, however, with the laws stating that a player cannot touch the ball twice from a penalty.
As Carney was first to the ball – as Lindhal didn’t save it – strictly speaking the Dutch referee Sjoukje De Jong should not have allowed the goal. Sweden did not protest, though.
After the interval, the attacking forays eventuated in more goals.
Kirby, the game’s outstanding player, found the net, Sanderson displayed great footwork to score a third and Carney scored a wonderful fourth.
England began the match as they played the entire game – attacking quickly and with numbers.
Kirby could have opened the scoring inside 30 seconds, when a cross from Nobbs troubled Nilla Fischer whose sliced clearance fell to Kirby who shot over.
England’s were relentless in the opening exchanges and interspersed between Jodie Taylor twice having the offside flag raised against her, Kirby, again, passed up a chance to break the deadlock.
Played in by Sanderson, the winger sauntered into the box but was halted before she got her shot away by Berglund.
It was Kirby’s turn to become provider and she squared the ball to Taylor whose shot was parried back into the path of Kirby but her outstretched right boot could not lift it over Lindahl.
Sara Thunebro went against the grain of play, curling a cross intended for Sofia Jakobsson onto Karen Barsdley’s cross-bar. Schelin then upped the tempo further, shooting from an acute angle into the Town End.
Kirby tried her fortune once more when she danced past four players but her subsequent shot didn’t bother Lindahl.
At the opposite end Bardsley produced a stunning, one-handed save after Karen Carney unknowingly headed Schelin’s shot towards goal.
The opener soon arrived despite the controversy. Nevertheless, the goal stood to the delight of the home crowd who watched on as the half ended without further incident, aside from Berglund heading over the bar from a corner.
Half time: England 1-0 Sweden.
Kirby finally get the goal her tricky play and her endeavour deserved on 53 minutes to double England’s lead.
Picking a pass up from the left, Kirby took a touch on the edge of the box and stroked the ball past Carola Soberg.
The Lionesses raised the ante even further with Williams thundering a free-kick into Soberg’s palms, Sanderson optimistically volleyed wide from 20 yards, while Carney struck a venomous shot that called Soberg into a full-length dive.
Kirby kept Soberg’s gloves warm with a low drive from the left before she was withdrawn on the hour mark for Toni Duggan. Ilestedt could have halved the deficit had she not headed over from a free-kick before Eniola Aluko nearly made it three.
The substitute’s rasping shot from 10 yards cracked the bar.
Worry not, though. Sanderson ensured that England did get on the score sheet for third time after great foot work. Receiving the ball from Stokes, Sanderson made light work of the tight space and slotted home from five yards.
Carney got her second of the match and England’s fourth 10 minutes from time with a spectacular, swerving 25-yard strike that sent The Vic into a ground-wide Mexican wave.
Schelin flicked a chance for Sweden onto Bardsley’s fingertips and from the ensuing corner Alex Scott headed the ball onto the roof of the net in the game’s final action.
Full time: England 4-0 Sweden.
England: Bardsley, Alex Scott, Houghton, Bronze (Bassett, 70), Stokes (Greenwood, 75); Nobbs, Carney, Williams (Jill Scott, 75), Kirby (Duggan, 61); Taylor (Aluko, 61), Sanderson.Subs not used: Chamberlain, Bonner, Potter, Moore, Telford, Dowie, Clarke.Sweden: Lindahl (Soberg, 46), Nilsson, Fischer (Ilestedt, 37), Berglund (Sembrant, 68), Thunebro; Jakobsson (Hjohlman, 46), Seger (Lundh, 60), Asllani (Dahlkvist, 46), Folkesson; Svogran, Schelin.Subs not used: Goransson, Roflo, Appleqvist, Wahlstrom, Ericsson.Attendance: 4547