KATIE MISHNER /AIPS in UTRECHT*: On what was supposed to be Scotland’s big night England wrote their own piece of history on their rival’s major tournament debut.
Jodie Taylor scored the first UEFA Women’s EURO hat trick in 20 years as the Lionesses welcomed their neighbours onto the European stage with a thumping 6-0 victory.
Spain beat Portugal 2-0 in Doetinchem in the earlier Group D game.
The first 10 minutes promised an open match. Both sides had breakthrough opportunities within two minutes but, for Scotland, this was the beginning of the end.
Lucy Bronze sent an unerring ball to Fran Kirby, whose shrewd dummy took Ifeoma Dieke off the scent, and Jodie Taylor ran through – cool, calm and collected – to beat keeper Gemma Fay.
Conceding so early through a collapsed defence forced Scotland to re-evaluate.
Numbers behind the ball grew while lone striker Jane Ross remained wedged upfield between England central defenders Millie Bright and Steph Houghton, hoping for a stray opportunity.
Scotland’s back line appeared increasingly fragile and a third goal looked inevitable. An audacious Jill Scott effort hit the bar and Ellen White pounced on the rebound.
Scotland clearly needed to make a change. Anna Singeul increased the fire power by replacing Fiona Brown with the tenacious Lena Clelland at half-time while 19-year-old Erin Cuthbert entered the pitch in the 63rd minute.
All to no avail.
Scotland did begin to enjoy more of the ball in England’s final third but chances were few and far between.
Instead they fell to the clinical Lionesses with Taylor claiming her third. Unlike the scrappy second, the Arsenal striker completed her hat-trick in style. Taylor connected with the ball on the move and, as skipper Fay rushed forward to smother the advance, the 31-year-old neatly dinked the ball over the keeper and into the net.
England’s dominance remained relentless. Nobbs, who had been directing the Lionesses’ attack, became a goal-scorer too with a sublime 87th-minute volley.
In the last minute of stoppage time, it was Toni Duggan’s turn. The substitute’s close-range header marked the end of a night to forget for Scotland and watching First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on her 47th birthday . . . but what promises to be a bright campaign for Mark Sampson’s England.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide and which is currently running a Young Reporters project in the Netherlands with the cooperation and support of European federation UEFA. More information at www.AIPSmedia.com