England 2-0 Denmark: women's international friendly – as it happened

  • Nikita Parris and Jill Scott strike either side of half-time
  • Phil Neville’s Lionesses overcome shaky start to ensure win

That’s all from me. Thanks for reading!

And here’s Suzanne Wrack’s match report from Banks’ Stadium:

P-Nev speaks: “At half-time we weren’t happy, we wanted the standard to be better than that. The pitch wasn’t great but I just wanted them to do the basics well. I was bored watching it in the first half – I wanted better tempo and better quality. We left players isolated on the ball. The three best players today were Bardsley, Carney and Scott. The second goal was a terrific bit of play, our first real bit of composure. We had to dig in to win the game. My players are shattered. But there’s still massive improvements to go.”

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Beth Mead: “There’s still players trying to work together in this team. In the second half we improved. It was frustrating a half-time – we know we’re better than that. We always want more. We’ll keep improving.”

Full-time! England 2-0 Denmark

And that’s that. It wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline suggests but England were worth their win in the end, gaining confidence in the second half after an early wobble. They didn’t look entirely convincing at the back and were often sloppy in midfield – but were a threat with every attack. A mixed bag. And a good game.

92 mins: Harder, desperate for a goal, marauds into the England box only to be crowded out. Carney tidies up and wellies clear.

90 mins: An alert Kirby pounces on a loose ball and wriggles free on the right. Her cross is put behind, but the corner comes to nothing.

85 mins: Abel scuffs a clearance dreadfully, straight to Kirby. She squares to Staniforth, who unleashes one from range. But she doesn’t catch it properly and the ball scuttles wide. At the other end, Harder surges forward and when a chance opens up for her, she strikes tamely at Bardsley.

82 mins: Kirby and White link up well, the former buzzing down the inside-left channel and sending the ball dangerously across goal, but her strike parter can’t quite reach it.

79 mins: England are finally playing with authority, sweeping the ball back and forth across the midfield and keeping Denmark at arm’s length. Staniforth replaces Mead.

74 mins: Double sub for Denmark – Tavlo comes on for Sorensen, Thogersen for Troelsgaard.

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73 mins: Mead is released on the right by a lovely chipped pass from moore. She rattles in a low cross which Abel does well to smother.

68 mins: Harder whips it inches wide, keeper beaten. Great effort.

67 mins: Harder punishes some sloppy play from England, stealing the ball and scampering forward. She zips it out to Sorensen, who cuts inside and is brought down. Free-kick on the edge of the box.

64 mins: Denmark change. Bruun off, Madsen on.

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61 mins: Two changes for England. Kirby and Carney replace Stanway and Parris.

Goal! England 2-0 Denmark (Scott 59)

Another fine goal, Scott arriving on the penalty spot with immaculate timing to meet Mead’s smart cross from the left. Her thumping header concludes a counterattack that was superb in its simplicity.

Jill Scott of England scores her team’s second goal
Jill Scott of England scores her team’s second goal Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Scott celebrates scoring
Scott celebrates scoring Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images via Reuters

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58 mins: A Denmark free-kick causes unnecessary chaos in the England defence, where there have been nerves all afternoon. A corner results, and eventually a foul in England’s favour.

54 mins: Denmark work their way inside after a throw-in from the left. Bruun lays off to Sorensen on the penalty spot, but she shanks wildly over.

51 mins: Great goalkeeping from Bardley, quick off her line to smother a low cross at the feet of Harder, who would have had a tap-in.

50 mins: Scott bursts forward and feeds Parris, now stationed out on the right, who cuts inside and squirms into the box. She’s brought down – but no foul.

47 mins: England start well, seizing possession inside the Denmark half and feeding Mead, who for a split second looks to be clean through but doesn’t quite have the pace and is forced wide. The attack fizzles out.

46 mins: Denmark get the second half under way. The brass band parps on.

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England come trotting out for the second half. “That was nowhere near the standards I want – they’re under no illusions,” fumes Phil Neville in the tunnel. No changes for either side.

Half-time

And that’s the last action of the half. A funny old 45 minutes – Denmark have been the better team but England could easily be 3-0 up. In the event, it’s just the one. There’s been tidy football, lots of chances, and the odd moment of extreme clownishness. What more do you want?

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Goal! England 1-0 Denmark (Parris 45)

Parris shows why she is now part of the world’s best club team. Mead’s free-kick from the right is nondescript but only half cleared. Parris pounces in a crowded box to control and fire clinically home, all in one crisp movement. Instinctive finish.

England’s Nikita Parris scores their first goal
England’s Nikita Parris scores their first goal Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images via Reuters
England’s Nikita Parris celebrates scoring their first goal
England’s Nikita Parris celebrates scoring their first goal Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images via Reuters

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43 mins: Bruun has the ball in the net, meeting Sevecke’s cross from the right, but it doesn’t count. She adjudged to have committed a handball in a frankly bizarre manoeuvre when she leant down to control the cross with a shoulder before finishing. I’ve never seen that before. Was it handball? It certainly wasn’t football …

42 mins: Snerle, who was left in a heap contesting a header a few minutes ago, cannot continue and is replaced by Gejl.

Denmark’s Emma Snerle in action
Denmark’s Emma Snerle in action Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images via Reuters

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38 mins: A fleet-footed Sorensen engineers shooting space on the edge of the box, but can’t quite pick out the corner. Bardsley saves.

37 mins: Daly, chasing a loose ball in midfield, finds herself contesting a brutal 50/50 challenge … with her teammate Moore. The two collide head-first and Daly comes off the worst, and rubs her shin, grimacing. Not a good look.

34 mins: Daly and Mead combine to work a good opening down the right before the former drills the ball into the box. Stokes, who’s made it into the box from left-back, scuffs wide.

32 mins: Parris shows her class with a lovely bit of skill to escape her marker in midfield, sending the ball one side and accelerating round the other. She plays it to Stanway, who’s robbed from behind - not for the first time today.

27 mins: That’s better from Neville’s side though, who looked mighty shaky in the game’s early stages. They look a lot happier when they’re on the attack.

26 mins: Another wonderful chance for England. Stanway’s languid inswinger from the left takes out the entire Denmark defence and is met by Scott, who somehow manages to put the ball over the bar from point-blank range. It was bouncing, and an onrushing keeper may have put her off – but she should have scored.

23 mins: Parris involved again, swooping into the box from the left flank before being crowded out by red shirts.

England’s Nikita Parris in action
England’s Nikita Parris in action Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images via Reuters

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21 mins: A first glimpse of Parris, who tracks back to steal the ball before carrying it forward at pace and sending it inside to Stanway. She really should play it back to the forward, who’s made a good run down the right, but instead belts one at goal from range. Deflected wide.

19 mins: England go within inches of taking the lead. Jill Scott snuffs out a Denmark attack before striding for and playing a gorgeous pass in behind the Danish defence to an onrushing White. At full sprint, the striker does everything right, dinking over a prone keeper, but her effort trickles just wide. Great move.

England’s Ellen White misses a chance to score
England’s Ellen White misses a chance to score Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images via Reuters

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17 mins: The resulting corner is headed wide by Sevecke.

16 mins: More holes open in in the England defence as Bruun scampers in behind and lays off to Sorensen, whose superb whipped cross from the right is cleared desperately by Williamson.

14 mins: Free-kick to England in the Denmark half. It’s drifted in by Mead and half-met by Bright, whose effort bounces over.

12 mins: Glorious chance for Troelsgaard, laid on after Snerle dances into the box in impudent style and sells a stepover to Bright. Williamson clears off the line. England are all over the shop.

10 mins: Denmark embark on a spot of impressive ball-hogging in midfield, Troelsgaard at the heart of it, before Stanway cuts out a passes and overhits a through-ball to Parris.

England’s Georgia Stanway in action with Denmark’s Sofie Junge
England’s Georgia Stanway in action with Denmark’s Sofie Junge Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images via Reuters

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7 mins: A third corner for Denmark, and a third to find a Danish head. Off target again, but concerning.

4 mins: Denmark stay on the front foot and win a corner, floated into the captain Harder who nods just wide. As per England tradition, an unrelenting brass band provides the afternoon’s soundtrack.

2 mins: A decent spell of pressure from Denmark culminates with a speculative but well-struck curler from Troelsgaard that sails just over.

We're off!

England get things going with some zippy passing along the backline before Svava steals possession once the Lionesses advance.

The teams are out, the anthems are being sung, and kick-off is imminent.

Phil Neville on his selection: “It’s a reward for the team that played against Spain – I’ve only made three changes. I wanted to see Millie [Bright] and Leah [Williamson] play together. The players that need the games are going to be playing, and we want to keep everyone on their toes.” On leaving out his captain Steph Houghton, he says: “She’s played in every game this season. When we get to the big games in the World Cup I need to know she’ll be fresh. She’ll be starting next week against New Zealand.”

England women’s manager Phil Neville
England women’s manager Phil Neville Photograph: Matt Bunn/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

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And here’s this week’s Dispatch From the World of Football Ticketing

That interview also features Kirby talking about equal pay. “Ultimately we need to grow the women’s game,” she says. “That’s the biggest issue, it always has been. Then you can talk about equal pay and everything else. We need to win the World Cup to have a leg to stand on in those situations.”

A spot of pre-match reading. Fran Kirby, who starts on the bench today but will surely figure, speaks to our correspondent Suzanne Wrack about the pain of England’s recent near-misses:

A big chance then for Ellen White up front, who scored what proved to be the winner in the Lionesses’s last game, against Spain. She’s just joined City – ostensibly to replace Nikita Parris, who plays alongside her today – but has endured an injury-hit season after being named WSL player of the year and topping the scoring charts two years ago.

Team news

England: Bardsley (GK), Daly, Williamson, Bright, Stokes, Scott, Moore, Parris, Stanway, Mead, White.

Denmark: Abel (GK), Snerle, Arnth, Sevecke, Troelsgaarde, Harder, Junge, Sorensen, Ballisager, Bruune, Svava.

Preamble

Not long now. With the World Cup just a fortnight away, and England’s Lionesses heading into the tournament as the bookie’s fourth-favourites, all that’s left for Phil Neville’s side to do is heighten their form, fitness and focus. To that end, today gives us the first of two warmup games – the other being against New Zealand next weekend – with which Neville can fine-tune his formula.

And it’s a pretty exciting formula. The loss of Jordan Nobbs to an ACL rupture is a blow but England’s attacking riches remain such that Neville could afford to leave Beth England, the WSL’s third top scorer this term, out of his squad entirely. A large reason for that is the explosive Nikita Parris, who is coming off the back of a campaign where she’s scored at a goal-a-game rate and will see this summer as a chance to truly announce herself to the world.

Elsewhere, positive signs abound. Fran Kirby claims she is in the best shape of her career. Beth Mead has just picked up a WSL medal with Arsenal, while Lucy Bronze and Toni Duggan made it to last week’s Champions League final, where the former’s all-conquering Lyon team – whom Parris has just upped sticks to join – did the business in style. And the gang were put through their paces this week by the Royal Marines – so no excuses for any fatigue today.

Today’s opponents, Denmark, will not be heading to France this summer, having failed to quality for three successive World Cups, but don’t let that fool you. they showed their credentials with a fine display at the 2017 Euros, where they were beaten in the final by England semi-final nemeses, the Netherlands. They’ll be dangerous in attack, with former PSG striker Nadia Nadim and captain Pernille Harder having chalked up 82 international goals between them – the latter closing in on the team’s all-time record – while the veteran midfielder Sanne Troelsgaard Nielsen scores at a not-too-shabby one-in-three rate for her country.

England fans make their way to the game
England fans make their way to the game Photograph: Eddie Keogh for The FA/REX/Shutterstock

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