Scotland scare shows England’s success depends on consistency – Neville

Phil Neville was delighted with England’s first-half performance but disappointed by a dip after the break as they opened their Women’s World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Scotland in Nice.

Nikita Parris’ penalty and an Ellen White finish put the Lionesses 2-0 up in a bossed first half, before their levels dropped and Scotland battled back, with Claire Emslie netting in the 79th minute.

Neville said: “We played really well in the first half.

“We played really adventurous, really high. We could have had more goals, and nearly had a third one just after half-time.

“And then I suppose the disappointment leaving the game – and it’s the standards that we have set – is that in the second half we need to keep the ball better.

“So we have to keep driving those standards, we have to keep being ruthless.

“We’ve got a long way to go to start talking about winning a World Cup, but we’re going to give it our best shot.

“When I see them play like they did for the first 60 minutes, we’re a good team that will progress in the competition. If we drop our levels, then it makes life tougher.”

Emslie scored after England captain Steph Houghton gave the ball away, and Neville said: “She gave it away trying to do the right thing. She was trying to make the pass that we practice, so I’m never going to criticise my players for that.”

The penalty netted by Parris was awarded for handball via VAR, with referee Jana Adamkova pointing to the spot after watching back footage of Fran Kirby’s cross striking Nicola Docherty on the arm.

Neville said: “We’ve been given two talks by referees, and the two talks we’ve had, one by a FIFA official and one by an official in England, both said that was going to be a penalty.

“I didn’t look at it – I just trusted that the minute the referee came over, I think it’s going to be penalty.”

Scotland boss Shelley Kerr said of the incident: “By the letter of the law it’s a penalty.

“The rules are the rules, but I definitely thought the penalty was harsh.”

On what was Scotland’s debut appearance at a Women’s World Cup finals, Kerr added: “First half we were disappointed in terms of our performance.

“I thought the second half we were better organised and finished the game extremely well. It was more like us and I was pleased with that, there was lots of positives.”

The attendance at the Allianz Riviera was 13,188. It was put to Neville that the figure was lower than some had expected, and he said: “Yes, there were probably more empty seats than what we thought.

“But I thought it was a brilliant support by us and I do think when we get to Le Havre (for their next Group D game, against Argentina) there will be more, and when we come back down to Nice (to play Japan) there will be even more supporters.”