Ellen White netted a hattrick on England’s return to international football after 349 days, as the Lionesses thrashed Northern Ireland 6-0 at St George’s Park.
White struck twice in the first half in the space of before Lucy Bronze tapped in their third goal from Lauren Hemp’s pass.
White completed her hattrick in the 49th minute after firing in from Jill Scott’s pass, as the latter captained England on her 150th international appearance in place of Steph Houghton who was also in the starting lineup.
Rachel Daly added their fifth goal as she fired in Bronze’s 67th minute pullback pass before Chloe Kelly was fouled by Rebecca Holloway just seven minutes later, with Ella Toone dispatching the resulting penalty on her first senior appearance for the Lionesses.
England eventually survived a late attack by Northern Ireland to clinch a comfortable victory in their first match under caretaker manager, Hege Riisse who replaced Phil Neville as Head Coach this month after his exit last month.
England made a strong start to the first half in dominating possession with Northern Ireland camped in their own half defending robustly throughout, as White went closest in the opening minutes as she chased Scott’s through ball but her shot was saved by Becky Flaherty.
Bronze soon afterwards went close twice but Flaherty saved her eighth minute header before Julie Nelson cleared Bronze’s cross just moments later.
England eventually got their rewards in the 18th minute when White pounced onto a poor backpass and fired across into the bottom right corner, before netting her second just five minutes later when she bundled in from Bronze’s right-hand cross.
Six minutes later, Bronze added the Lionesses third goal when Lauren Hemp intercepted passing play between two Irish players, nicking the ball and playing a low cross for her unmarked Manchester City teammate to tap in from close range.
Georgia Stanway and Jordan Nobbs saw shots blocked in the 30th minute after picking up passes by Scott who had collected a quick pass from Bronze, whose shot had deflected after gathering a loose ball after White was fouled and dispossessed.
Hemp nearly added a fourth goal in the 36th minute but flicked Nobbs’ free-kick just wide of the bottom left corner, before White saw a 42nd minute effort blocked by Flaherty.
Northern Ireland came out at the start of the second half with more fight but England soon got on top two minutes in with White chipping substitute, Ella Toone’s through ball wide after Flaherty came out to make a tackle.
White soon completed her hat-trick just two minutes later when she smashed in from Scott’s pass to make it 39 goals for England in 93 appearances.
Toone, White and Daly then saw opportunities saved until Bronze raced onto a loose ball and pulled back for Daly to rifle in their fifth goal of the afternoon in the 67th minute.
England eventually completed their six goal rout when Kelly was fouled by Rebecca Holloway, with Toone rolling the resulting penalty into the bottom left corner.
Stanway, Kelly and Bethany England saw late chances go begging despite Northern Ireland winning two late free-kicks, of which both set pieces failed to trouble the Lionesses, who made it eight consecutive victories over their Irish opposition by an aggregate score of 50-3 across all eighth meetings.
England’s Keira Walsh was ruled out with a thigh injury and will return to Man City for further treatment upon the conclusion of this month’s training camp.
England will now next play Canada on 13 April in an international friendly, whilst Northern Ireland will participate in the Qualifying Play-Offs for UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 which is taking place in England across July 2022.
England: Ellie Roebuck (GK) (Maclver 61′), Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Georgia Stanway, Steph Houghton, Leah Williamson (Wubben-Moy 75′), Rachel Daly (Salmon 84′), Jill Scott, Ellen White (England 76′), Jordan Nobbs (Toone 45′), Lauren Hemp (C Kelly 61′)
Subs: Sandy Mclver (GK), Ella Toone, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Millie Turner, Chloe Kelly, Beth Mead, Bethany England, Ebony Salmon, Hannah Hampton
Northern Ireland: Becky Flaherty (GK), Abbie Magee, Julie Nelson, Sarah McFadden (T.L Kelly 84′), Rebecca Holloway (Finnegan 83′), Chloe McCarron (McKenna 57′), Rachel Furness, Nadene Caldwell (Burrows 84′, Marissa Callaghan (Watling 58′), Lauren Wade (McDaniel 73′), Simone Magill
Subs: Kelsie Burrows, Rebecca McKenna, Ashley Hutton, Toni-Leigh Finnegan, Samantha Kelly, Louise McDaniel, Emily Wilson, Casey Howe, Ella Haughey, Ciara Watling, Maddy Harvey-Clifford