One of the heroines of England's key qualifying win in Norway, Nikita Parris shrugged off a missed penalty to net a stunning long-range goal in Thursday's Group A victory over Wales.
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Scorer of a fine individual strike that sealed the 3-0 win on Norwegian soil which secured England's place here at the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship in Wales, Nikita Parris was at it again in Thursday's Group A clash versus the hosts.
With Mo Marley's charges already a Melissa Lawley goal to the good, Parris made amends for crashing a spot kick against the bar minutes earlier by arrowing a shot from distance into the top corner of Alice Evans's net.
"I was just aiming to get the shot on target, but it turned out perfectly," the Everton LFC forward told UEFA.com about the second goal in a 3-0 success that put England top of the section on four points, ahead of France on goal difference. "I was a bit disappointed and angry after the penalty, but it really motivated me to try and get another opportunity and when I got it I took it.
"But I'm not going to sit here and say what happens on the pitch is all down to us players," continued England's No9. "Honestly, the work the coaches do to get us ready for games, the details they give us ... We just put into practice what they tell us to do, so they should get the credit."
Indeed, with England forced to adopt a counterattacking style for much of the opening hour at Llanelli's Parc y Scarlets, it was a 55th-minute tactical switch from coach Marley which helped inspire a marked improvement in their play. "We needed fresh legs on the pitch, which Katie [Zelem] brought when she came on," said captain Sherry McCue. "She also brought a shorter, sharper side to our game – helping us knock the ball about better and making Wales run a lot more."
Their first win of the competition safely in the bag, England are just one point clear of third-placed Denmark, whom they meet in their final group game in Llanelli on Sunday. "Our first objective is to keep a clean sheet – we know that if we can do that, we've got a great chance of qualifying for the semi-finals and with it the [FIFA U-20 Women's] World Cup next year," added Aston Villa LFC prospect McCue of a scenario that requires France to get at least a draw against already eliminated Wales.
"It's all about preparation: we're ready for anybody," concluded the hard-running midfielder. "Whatever happens, I know that everybody in this team will give their all to make sure we compete against the best, to try and be the best."