Women's football: Back to earth but England still through to Euro 2013

England 3 Croatia 0

Banks's Stadium

It was back to reality for England's Team GB Olympians as, seven weeks after thrilling a Wembley crowd of 70,584 in a 1-0 GB victory over Brazil at London 2012, Hope Powell's national side had to scrap for a 3-0 Women's Euro 2013 qualifying win against Croatia in front of just 5,821 spectators at Walsall's Banks's Stadium.

A Uefa-enforced 5pm kick-off and BBC's live TV broadcast conspired to restrict the crowd potential of what was a crucial qualifier, the last of the five-nation Group E to be played and a must-win for England as they started the evening two points behind the group leaders the Netherlands– the Dutch having already completed their fixtures.

Powell, who had also taken charge of Team GB, was philosophical about the attendance figure and her team's below-par performance as she celebrated reaching next summer's Euro finals in Sweden after goals by the midfielder Jill Scott, the striker Eni Aluko and the captain Casey Stoney had defeated the group's bottom team – who England had trounced 6-0 in Croatia.

"The kick-off time of 5pm didn't help in terms of filling the stadium," said Powell, "but we got really good support. The crowds we had supporting Team GB at the Olympics were fantastic and we've got to try to get those audiences to watch England, whose players made up 90 per cent of the GB squad. We have a job to do to market the game and get the message across that we produce a good product."

The product was not at its best at the Banks's Stadium but, against a team that has collected only a single qualifying point, it was good enough to not only win the game but also keep a seventh successive clean sheet in an undefeated qualifying campaign.

Powell had told her players before the game to beware the effects of a comedown from the euphoria that had surrounded their exploits at the London Games and she insisted: "The girls were totally focused after coming away from the Olympics.

"At times we moved the ball well, but when we stopped doing the things we said we'd do we put ourselves in trouble a bit. The result was the most important thing though, and I'm happy that we've qualified for another major tournament."

England will head to Sweden looking to improve on their runners-up spot at Euro 2009. They will need better performances than this even though their victory was comfortable enough after Scott had netted the 21st-minute opener. Aluko doubled the lead two minutes into the second half and Stoney completed the scoring 10 minutes from time.

England (4-2-3-1): Bardsley (Linkoping); A. Scott (Arsenal), Bradley (Lincoln), Stoney (Lincoln) (Rafferty (Chelsea) 87), Houghton (Arsenal); J. Scott (Everton), Asante (Gothenburg); Carney (Birmingham City), F. Williams (Everton); Yankey (Arsenal) (Duggan (Everton) 79); Aluko (Birmingham City). Substitutes not used Brown (Everton), Clarke (Lincoln), Susi (Chelsea), Bassett (Birmingham City), R. Williams (Birmingham City).

Croatia (4-1-4-1): Bacic; Cepernic (Lovna 76), Hercigonja Moulton, Scurich, Jelencic (Salek 68); Gaiser; Martic, Landeka, Joscak, Kolar; Sundov (Conjar 85). Substitutes not used Vrdolak, Bulut, Valusek.

Referee E Azzopardi (Malta).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Déjà vu: David Tennant returns to familiar territory with Anna Gunn (‘Breaking Bad’)
tvReview: Something is missing in Gracepoint, and it's not just the familiar names
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?