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England's Olympic dreams crushed despite six-goal Scotland victory

:Headline: England's Olympic dreams crushed despite six-goal Scotland victory:
England Women's hopes of qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics are extinguished despite a 6-0 Nations League thrashing of Scotland.
Sports Mole

England Women's hopes of Nations League glory and representing Team GB at the 2024 Paris Olympics were extinguished despite a 6-0 drubbing of Scotland Women at Hampden Park in League A Group 1.

With Friday's thrilling 3-2 win over the Netherlands giving the Lionesses a fighting chance of semi-final qualification and keeping their hopes of Olympic participation alive as Great Britain's nominees, it was permutations galore before the first whistle blew.

A win by any margin would be enough for England if the Netherlands failed to beat Belgium, but should the Dutch prevail, Sarina Wiegman's side would have needed to triumph by at least three goals more than their recent foes.

A brace for Lauren James alongside efforts from Beth Mead, Fran Kirby, Alex Greenwood and a last-gasp Lucy Bronze header saw England do all they could to pip the Dutch to first place, but with the Netherlands thumping Belgium 4-0 - thanks to two injury-time strikes - the European champions were left crestfallen.

England began their quest for an emphatic success straight away, as with just 12 minutes on the clock, an outswinging corner from Mead - making her first England start since her ACL injury last year - found an unmarked Greenwood, who directed a pinpoint header into the side of the net.

The Manchester City defender and her teammates immediately jogged back into formation as England sought a quickfire second, but the Lionesses would survive a heart-in-mouth moment in the 16th minute, when Lisa Evans went down under pressure from Bronze inside the box but was told to get up by referee Ionela Pesu.

Wiegman's team should have doubled their lead on the 30-minute mark, as the ever-dangerous James strode down the left and found Lauren Hemp in acres of space at the back post, but with the goal at her mercy, the 23-year-old inexplicably tapped the ball against the post.

James elected to go herself in the 38th minute after Scotland only managed to clear a Mead cross as far as the Chelsea winger, whose speculative effort took a significant deflection off Nicola Docherty to deceive Lee Gibson and nestle into the bottom of the net.

Again, England kept their celebrations to a minimum, which was also the case when the electrifying James doubled her tally and scored England's coveted third only one minute later, cutting inside from the left and finding the top corner with a sublime 20-yard effort; Gibson got fingertips to James's strike but could only help it on its way over the line.

The glut of first-half goals did not cease there, as in the one added minute, James turned provider for the returning Mead, picking the Arsenal attacker out with a stunning long ball before the 28-year-old beat Gibson at her near post with a fine finish into the roof of the net.

A trio of Scotland changes at half time did little to stem the England flow, and Kirby struck the visitors' fifth just four minutes after the restart, tapping in from a couple of yards after Georgia Stanway did brilliantly to keep the ball alive on the right byline.

As news filtered through of the Netherlands increasing their lead to two, Kirby came agonisingly close to netting England's sixth with a half-volley onto the bar in the 59th minute, three moments before Gibson acrobatically beat away a Greenwood free kick.

Only a couple of minutes after Mary Earps - a mere spectator all evening long - produced a remarkable full-length save from a Martha Thomas header, Bronze, who then inadvertently deflected the ball onto the post, went down the other end of the field and headed in England's sixth before dropping to the turf in euphoria.

Wiegman communicated to her players at full time that the Netherlands were leading by three, forcing the Lionesses to wait with bated breath to learn if their exploits would be enough, but as the Dutch put their fourth goal of the night past Belgium, it was Hampden heartbreak for the World Cup runners-up. body check tags ::

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Read more about Sarina Wiegman Beth Mead Alex Greenwood Lucy Bronze Lisa Evans Ionela Pesu Lauren James Lauren Hemp Lee Gibson Fran Kirby Georgia Stanway Martha Thomas Mary Earps Nicola Docherty Football
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