Rachel Daly, Chloe Kelly, Ella Tone and Jess Park scored in an elegant 4-0 victory as England beat former world champions Japan at the Pinatar Arena, cementing their position as one of the favorites for next year’s World Cup.
Park’s debut, off the bench, wrapped up the scoring late to shine on a show of ruthless attack, as Sarina Weigman extended her unbeaten reign as coach to 25 games.
Daly’s goal gave England a first-half lead and the European champions switched style after the break as Kelly and Toon scored before 21-year-old Park wrapped things up in the last minute of the 90th.
Kelly, England’s most admired outlet, was rewarded for all her first-half endeavours when she swept away Beth Meade’s cross in the 53rd minute, cementing her claim to a base berth in the absence of injured Lauren Hemp.
Then Ebony Salmon, another Lionesses newcomer, was involved in tonight’s final England foray when he served up the fourth goal, robbing Moeka Minami of possession before chipping the ball back to Park to make an almost instant impact.
England team news
Sarina Weigman was forced to make changes with Lauren Hemp absent, Alex Greenwood tired and Lucy Bronze was disqualified after testing positive for Covid-19.
Fran Kirby was also missing due to illness, but England showed increasing depth as Esme Morgan and Niamh Charles made their international debuts.
Park puts a seal on victory
Park scored a goal just seconds after her debut as England eased to victory over Japan in Spain, with Wegman praising her team for challenging them and demonstrating ‘attractive football’.
The Lions are now unbeaten in their last 25 games, with preparations for next summer’s World Cup on track.
Japan, ranked 11th in the world, was seen as presenting a unique technical challenge to test England’s seemingly unbreakable resolve, but it was a challenge they comfortably handled.
It also showed how blessed England is with young super talent – with 21-year-old Salmon setting the Toone hit, before orchestrating the Park inauguration to celebrate an unforgettable international bow.
Equally keen to impress, Chelsea striker Lauren James was at the center of England’s third goal, driving from midfield before turning the ball over to Salmon who played a clever counter pass to lead Toone.
The only slight disappointment on a fun evening was that returning striker Alicia Russo was unable to extend her purple patch in front of goal, despite Kelly’s cross-swinging gesture in the 26th minute – finding only the outside of the far post.
Wegman praises ‘attractive’ display
England coach Sarina Weigman:
“We played a very good match. It was a very attractive match with a lot of football.
“Japan played football too, which made it a very tactical and technical game. I really enjoyed it. They played a little differently than we are used to, so it is good to see that we can do that.
“I really liked the way we solved it. In the game they also changed it – we had to adapt all the time. We scored four goals, which is really cool.
“It’s good to see the young players playing well, they put in a good performance. It’s only two minutes so we can’t really rate it.” [Jess Park] But when she first shows up and gets results – I haven’t seen her stop smiling yet. “
Kelly: It’s great to be back on the results sheet
England striker Chloe Kelly:
“This is a great Japanese team and I think we did well tonight. They put in a great team and we are back again on Tuesday.
“Score is always good. I’ve waited a while so it’s great to be on the score sheet.
“We attended tonight. We can be proud of this performance. Everything is a brick, we showed our competence again. It’s great to be there, I really enjoy football.”
Analysis: England to beat it
Laura Hunter from Sky Sports:
“Another display of absolute supremacy on the part of Sarina Wijmann. There is no stopping England under the leadership of the Dutch woman. Her record is exceptional, but more than that, the Lionesses now carry an air of menacing and determinism. Not in an arrogant way, but knowing they are a formidable challenge to any opponent, they are tough And not afraid.
“The European champions will aim for world domination in 2023 and, based on recent history, who is going to deny them a realistic shot. They beat world champions USA at Wembley, and now they face another elite team in the game.
“During Wiegman’s tenure, they beat all four sides to lift the World Cup. If that’s not a comfortable omen with next summer’s tournament approaching, I don’t know what is. Expectations are constantly rising.”
Analysis: The lionesses outperform Japan in technical terms
Anton Toloui, Sky Sports reporter:
Speaking to Sarina Weigman after the match, she seemed much happier with this result and performance than when England beat the USA at Wembley.
“The demanding coach was delighted with the ruthlessness in front of goal, his ability to beat such a technical aspect in Japan and the young players who made an impact.
Wigman gave the start to two Nyama defenders Charles and Esme Morgan and was thrilled with the way they both played. However, her biggest smile was dedicated to Jess Park, who clocked 79 seconds on her debut.
“Wegman admits she is optimistic about the future of this England team – she is clearly looking forward to the trophies for years to come.”
The Lionesses will face Norway at the Pinatar Arena on Tuesday 15 November, at 7pm, to conclude the international action for 2022 – a year that will be remembered as England’s most satisfying to date.