FIFA Women's World Cup: England 2-1 Scotland, 5 talking points
The FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off on Friday as hosts France defeated South Korea, and today it was the turn of Phil Neville’s England side to start their journey, as they defeated UK rivals Scotland 2-1 in Nice to move to the top of Group D.
It was a varied performance from the Lionesses, as they took the lead through a Nikita Parris penalty in the 14th minute following a VAR review that decided Fran Kirby’s cross had struck Nicola Docherty’s arm.
England appeared to have doubled their lead shortly after through an Ellen White header before it was chalked off for an offside, but White wasn’t denied 5 minutes before half-time as she put the Lionesses 2-0 up with a left footed shot just inside the box.
Another goal – this time from Beth Mead – was also ruled out for offside as the second half began, and then Scotland began to claw themselves back into the game with England beginning to look a little ragged.
With about 10 minutes to go Claire Emslie capitalised on some slack England defending to get a goal back for Scotland, but despite some more attacks, Shelley Kerr’s side couldn’t muster an equaliser.
Here are 5 talking points from the game.
#1 VAR helps England’s women after hindering the men
VAR has been the hot football topic in England this week following Jesse Lingard’s disallowed goal against the Netherlands on Thursday and that continued today.
Just hours after a Callum Wilson goal for the England men’s team against Switzerland was controversially chalked off by VAR for an apparent foul in the build up, England’s women benefited massively from the system with a penalty decision early in the first half of their game against Scotland.
In this instance, a cross from Fran Kirby was deflected into the box by Scotland defender Nicola Docherty, but despite the move coming to nothing, the referee was informed of a potential infringement by the VAR team, and a check seemed to show the ball strike Docherty’s left arm. Moments later, Nikita Parris scored from the spot to put England into the lead.
Did the incident really warrant a penalty? By the laws of the game, yes; Docherty’s arm was extended into what could be considered an ‘unnatural’ position – but by any logic she hadn’t deliberately attempted to block the cross with her hand either.
The lead was only what England deserved for their early dominance, but it’s clear that with VAR working in the way it currently does, it’s going to be a lot harder for defenders to make any attempted blocks without risking the ball touching their arm or hand and leading to a penalty call.