England started their UEFA European Women’s Championship campaign with a 4-0 win against Northern Ireland on a windy afternoon at Gillingham FC’s Priestfield Stadium.
The home side failed to get into their stride in the first half, with passes and goalscoring chances going astray, but finally made their dominance count early in the second period as Kelly Smith ran the ball over the line from close range after a Lianne Sanderson shot. Sanderson also played a part in the second goal, as her cross was turned into her own net by Northern Ireland’s Una Harkin.
With their visitors tiring, England continued to pile on the pressure with Katie Chapman plundering a third with an uncharacteristic left-footed strike after 72 minutes. Four minutes later, Sanderson finally got her name on the scoresheet, collecting a ball from Fara Williams before coolly rounding Northern Ireland goalkeeper Emma Higgins to make it 4-0.