Phil Neville up and running as England Women boss with a fine win

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Phil Neville enjoyed a sensational start to life in charge of England Women courtesy of a 4-1 hammering of SheBelieves Cup holders France in Ohio.

The former Manchester United, Everton and England defender received criticism just hours after his appointment in January when historical tweets about women resurfaced.

But head coach Neville’s reign on the pitch got up and running in emphatic fashion following goals from Toni Duggan, Jill Scott and Jodie Taylor inside 37 minutes.

Fran Kirby added a fourth shortly after half-time, but Gaetane Thiney denied Neville a first clean sheet with a deflected effort 13 minutes from time.

England acclimatised to the wet and windy conditions early and almost went ahead inside 90 seconds when Kirby drew a smart save from goalkeeper Karima Benameur.

The Lionesses did take take the lead in the sixth minute courtesy of Duggan, who curled home across Benameur from the angle of the box after a clever pass from Kirby.

England, already without injured trio Steph Houghton, Jordan Nobbs and Karen Carney, suffered an early blow as defender Anita Asante sustained a knee problem, handing Abbie McManus a debut off the bench.

But the change did not unsettle them and after Taylor chipped an effort against the crossbar, Scott side-footed into the bottom corner from 20 yards following poor defending.

Things got worse for France seven minutes before half-time when Nikita Paris split the defence with a classy through ball and the prolific Taylor poked past Benameur.

England refused to take their foot off the gas at the start of the second half and Kirby coolly added a fourth, converting Scott’s cut-back from 10 yards.

Neville had the luxury of taking off two of his goalscorers with 20 minutes remaining, replacing Duggan and Kirby with Izzy Christiansen and Ellen White respectively, perhaps with the games against Germany and United States in mind.

France made changes of their own and one of them, Thiney, found the net as her shot from distance deflected off Millie Bright’s shoulder and wrong-footed goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

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