England cannot afford to drop their intensity in the second half and must be ruthless in possession if they are to progress at the women’s World Cup, coach Phil Neville said after Sunday’s 2-1 win over Scotland.
England were leading 2-0 but tired after the hour mark in Nice and after repeatedly giving away possession allowed Scotland to pull one back in the 79th minute.
“We played really well in the first half, we spoke all week about the style of football we want to play,” Neville told reporters. “In the second half … we need to keep the ball better. We have to keep being ruthless.
“There should be no fear. They’re a good set of players with good quality and when I see how they play like they did for the first 60 minutes we are a good team which will progress in the competition.
“But if we drop our levels it will be tougher. We want to be here for the next 27 days. We should have done better… At 2-0 we thought it was going to be easy in the second half, it was a lesson that every game is going to be hard.”
England captain Steph Houghton, whose careless pass allowed Scotland to counter-attack and score, said their second half performance was not good enough and that she was relieved to win all three points.
“We need to be better, the girls know that,” Houghton said. “But for us it’s not about peaking at this moment in time. Hopefully we’ve got a lot of games to go and we’ve got to make sure everybody’s fit and fresh, and ready to go.
“Now we need to complete the performance because the second half wasn’t up to our standards. At the same time, we’d have taken that result because there’s been so much build-up about this game, with it being against Scotland as well.”
England play Argentina next while Scotland play Japan with both games taking place on Friday.