Sarina Wiegman’s first game in charge ended in victory as England thrashed North Macedonia to open their Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
Playing in front of more than 8,000 fans at St Mary’s Stadium, England put on a show to mark a new era.
Ella Toone scored on her first start, while Ellen White and substitute Bethany England netted twice.
Beth Mead capped off a brilliant display with a goal and there were also two own goals from the visitors.
It was a dominant performance by England, who easily could have scored double figures in what felt like 90 minutes of attacking onslaught, delivering 48 shots on goal.
Huge chances were missed by White, Lauren Hemp, Nikita Parris, Beth Mead and Toone, while Jill Scott hit the crossbar in the second half.
The Lionesses were never tested defensively and simply had too much quality for North Macedonia, ranked 131st in the world.
The heavy victory sees England move top of their qualifying group – which also includes Northern Ireland – nudging ahead of rivals Austria, who beat Latvia 8-1.
Northern Ireland marked their opening qualifying match with a 4-0 victory over Luxembourg, who are England’s next opponents on Tuesday, 21 September (19:15 BST).
Wiegman gets goals as youthful midfield shines
Wiegman said she wanted “lots of goals” from her side earlier this week, knowing they would dominate possession against a lower-ranked opposition.
While difficult to gauge their true level against North Macedonia, who are ranked 123 places below England in the world, a clean sheet, an attack-minded performance and a comfortable victory means they ticked all the boxes in Wiegman’s first game.
And it should have been a bigger victory.
It was a sign of England’s dominance that they went into the half-time break with a 3-0 lead feeling underwhelmed.
There were several missed opportunities in the first half in particular – with goalscorer White admitting she was “disappointed” not to have scored more.
But ultimately it was a hugely promising performance from England, who have lacked creativity and cohesion over the last two years.
The young midfield trio of Leah Williamson – captaining the side for the first time – Toone and Georgia Stanway impressed, while Mead’s bright start to the season with Arsenal continued.
More ruthlessness will no doubt be called for by Wiegman but it was the perfect way to start her England career.
North Macedonia Women
- 2DalySubstituted forCharlesat 82′minutes
- 5BrightSubstituted forWubben-Moyat 63′minutes
- 8StanwaySubstituted forEnglandat 71′minutes
- 9WhiteSubstituted forScottat 72′minutes
- 11HempSubstituted forParrisat 63′minutes
North Macedonia Women
- 13ZivikjBooked at 66mins
- 11SaliihiSubstituted forPetrushevskaat 79′minutes
- 16MustafaSubstituted forMileskaat 86′minutes
- 8MarkovskaSubstituted forDervishiat 45′minutes
- 9MaksutiBooked at 68minsSubstituted forDimoskaat 90+1′minutes
- María Dolores Martínez Madrona
Match ends, England 8, North Macedonia Women 0.
Second Half ends, England 8, North Macedonia Women 0.
Attempt saved. Beth Mead (England) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Leah Williamson.
Goal! England 8, North Macedonia Women 0. Beth Mead (England) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Bethany England.
Substitution, North Macedonia Women. Teodora Dimoska replaces Ilza Maksuti.
Goal! England 7, North Macedonia Women 0. Bethany England (England) header from very close range to the top left corner. Assisted by Beth Mead with a cross.
Attempt missed. Nikita Parris (England) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Lotte Wubben-Moy.
Attempt saved. Nikita Parris (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ella Toone with a through ball.
Attempt missed. Jill Scott (England) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Ella Toone with a cross.
Offside, England. Alex Greenwood tries a through ball, but Nikita Parris is caught offside.
Substitution, North Macedonia Women. Katerina Mileska replaces Hava Mustafa.
Attempt saved. Bethany England (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Niamh Charles (England) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lotte Wubben-Moy.
Hand ball by Bethany England (England).
Attempt blocked. Bethany England (England) header from the left side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Nikita Parris.
Ella Toone (England) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Sara Kolarovska (North Macedonia Women).
Substitution, England. Niamh Charles replaces Rachel Daly.
Attempt saved. Nikita Parris (England) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Bethany England.
Substitution, North Macedonia Women. Kristina Petrushevska replaces Afrodita Saliihi.