England made a winning start to their UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship defence as goals from Toni Duggan, Isobel Christiansen and substitute Laura Coombs helped see off Scotland in Skopje.
Mo Marley's holders were cruising at half-time thanks to Duggan and Christiansen, and had chances to extend their lead. Jennifer Beattie caused a few anxious moments when she pulled one back midway through the second period but within five minutes Coombs had restored the two-goal cushion to secure the Group A spoils.
The portents looked gloomy for Scotland even before kick-off. Having lost their last four meetings with England they could ill afford the last-minute withdrawal of Lisa Evans after the midfielder pulled up in the warm-up. England began by passing neatly: there was little subtle about Duggan's 20th-minute opener, though.
Lucia Bronze's long punt from defence looked innocuous but the Everton LFC striker was quickly onto it, showing the back line a clean pair of heels before a clinical low finish. The scourge of Scotland when these sides met at the same stage two years ago, when she hit two in a 3-1 win, had done it again.
Suddenly England were swarming forward, like the team that swept to glory ten months ago, and on 34 minutes they were 2-0 up. Again the build-up was not from the training pitch, but there was nothing wrong with Christiansen's finish as she latched onto a loose ball and dispatched a sweet half-volley into the far corner.
Two minutes later Stokes headed against the crossbar. Yet having been restricted to a couple of hopeful Beattie efforts before half-time Scotland went close soon after the restart when Lisa Robertson's cross-cum-shot hit the upright with goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer well beaten.
Rachael Small brilliantly blocked Duggan soon after and the tide seemed to have turned when Beattie pulled a goal back on 67 minutes, dispossessing a defender and firing crisply past Spencer. Coombs allayed any fears when she drove in from 30 metres, and England will meet Italy on Thursday in high spirits. The might of Germany awaits Scotland.
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