Super-sub Beth Mead made all the difference on Saturday as her second-half hat trick helped England to overcome Northern Ireland in a 4-0 victory at Wembley Stadium.
Despite going into half time with the score at 0-0, the Lionesses could have easily scored two or three goals in the opening 45 minutes after Lauren Hemp and Alex Greenwood struck the crossbar with their efforts. Captain Leah Williamson also came close on a few occasions, but ultimately Northern Ireland goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns made all the difference after putting on a superb performance to keep the home side at bay.
The turning point of the game proved to be in the 63rd minute when Mead replaced Rachel Daley. The striker immediately made her presence known as she put the Lionesses ahead with a superb half-volley which also happened to be her first touch of the game.
Bethany England claimed the second as she tapped the ball in following a fantastic cross from Hemp. England were by far the dominant side throughout the game and continued to press Northern Ireland into their own half.
Mead sealed her hat trick with two goals in quick succession, the first being a superb volley following another excellent cross from Hemp. The third goal came after a collision between England and Burns sent the ball into the path of the Lionesses’ number 17 who passed the ball into the back of the net with ease.
The deserved victory in this World Cup qualifier means that England remain at the top of group D. The Lionesses now travel to Latvia on Tuesday whilst Northern Ireland host Austria.
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