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England Women maintain 100% record



England Women continued their flawless run in Group Six with a thumping 4-0 win over Ukraine, in Thursday night's Women's World Cup qualifier at Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury.

Braces for Natasha Dowie and Eniola Aluko clinched the victory for Mark Sampson's side, who headed into the clash with maximum points and five clean sheets in each of their previous group games.

Seeking a win that would stand them in good stead to progress, Sampson named City and England captain Steph Houghton and midfielder Jill Scott in the starting line-up.

However, Blues' striker Toni Duggan - who netted a hat-trick for the Three Lionesses in their recent 9-0 win over Montenegro - was sidelined, whilst goalkeeper Karen Bardsley also missed out, having only returned from a lengthy injury in City's 2-1 Continental Cup defeat to Doncaster a week ago.

Scott had England's first real attempt of the night on 11 minutes. The midfielder took a touch to control the ball on the edge of the box before dragging a shot wide. Three minutes later, she tried her luck from slightly further out but her shot sailed just over.

Aluko then spurned two good opportunities for the home side before she turned provider, crossing for Dowie to break the deadlock. The Liverpool striker did well to lose her marker before heading the ball into the far corner to give the hosts a half-time lead.


After the restart, England were rampant, netting two goals in the opening seven minutes of the half. Houghton was involved on both occasions - first, touching the ball on for Aluko to poke home; then heading across goal for Dowie to sweep in her second of the game.

Scott was then replaced on 62 minutes before Aluko completed the rout with England's fourth, nipping in front of the Ukraine goalkeeper and rolling the ball into the empty net to ensure her side remain on course to reach the 2015 finals in Canada.

Elsewhere, Lynda Shepherd's Northern Ireland were beaten 3-0 by Sweden in their World Cup qualifier. Therese Sjögran scored for the hosts after just 12 minutes, before Caroline Seger doubled the advantage before half-time.

Lina Nilsson then added a third on 74 minutes as the Swedes stay on the trail of Group Four leaders Scotland, leaving Northern Ireland bottom with just two points on the board and no goals scored.

And finally, Betsy Hassett played the full 90 minutes for New Zealand, as the Football Ferns fell to a late defeat in a friendly at the hands of Japan in Osaka. After falling behind to a 38th-minute Takase Megumi strike, the visitors clawed themselves level with a scorching equaliser from Kirsty Yallop just after the hour-mark.

Tony Readings' side couldn't hold on for the draw though as Yuika Sugasawa headed in a corner with just four minutes of normal time remaining to give the world's third-ranked team the victory.

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