More questions have been raised about the fairness of pitting top nations against minnows after England Women stormed to an incredible 20-0 win over Latvia.
It was a record-breaking night at the Keepmoat Stadium as the Lionesses recorded their biggest ever win, while Ellen White became the country’s all-time leading goalscorer.
The result comes just weeks after the England men’s team recorded a 10-0 win over San Marino in their last competitive fixture.
New Lionesses boss Sarina Weigman questioned after the game whether pre-qualifiers should be brought in for lesser nations, insisting that a 20-0 victory helps nobody.
‘I think we have to look at it,’ she told reporters. ‘I’ve said that before. Of course you want competitive games and these are not competitive games.
‘You want to develop the well-developed countries already and the countries that are not that far. In every country you want to develop the women’s game but I don’t think it’s good that the scores now are so high.
‘I know that has the attention of the federations and UEFA and FIFA, and I think that’s good because I don’t think a 20-0 is good for the development of anyone.’
Ellen White became England Women’s highest goalscorer as they beat Latvia in a 20-0 mauling
White netted England’s third goal to surpass Kelly Smith’s record of 46 international goals
The striker scored her 46th and 47th goals for the Lionesses within the opening 10 minutes
In truth, this was another example of why UEFA must do more to help smaller nations develop the women’s game.
England’s gigantic win was just one of several ridiculous scorelines in this international window.
Belgium put 19 past Armenia while Northern Ireland, who are not even full-time players, thrashed North Macedonia 11-0 and 9-0 in two games.
In Doncaster on Tuesday, striker White started the night one goal behind Kelly Smith in the all-time charts but needed just nine minutes to score the two she required to break her former team-mate’s record, before claiming her hat-trick in the second half.
There were also hat-tricks for Beth Mead, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo as Sarina Wiegman’s side ended their final game of 2021 in style. Hemp and Russo had not scored for their country before Tuesday evening.
But this was White’s night, though she is not one for the limelight and was quick to point out the work of her team-mates to help her reach the record.
Substitute Alessia Russo (centre) celebrates scoring her side’s record-breaking 14th goal
Arsenal star Beth Mead (right) opened the scoring just three minutes into the first half
The forward added a second 12 minutes in before rounding off a hat-trick before the break
England (3-5-2): Earps 7, Bright 7 (Carter 45, 7), Wubben-Moy 7, Greenwood 8, Walsh 7 (Zelem 71, 7), Toone 7 (Nobbs 45), Stanway 8 (Scott 60), Hemp 9, Mead 9, White 9 (Russo 60, 9)
Subs not used: MacIver, Hampton, Charles, Kirby, Daly, Stokes, Russo, Zelem
Goals: Mead 3, 12, 23, White 6, 9, 49, Hemp 18, 44, 76, 88, Toone 42, Stanway 52, Carter 56, England 61, 84, Scott 67, Russo 71, 81, 82, Nobbs 80
Manager: Sarina Wiegman 9
Latvia (4-2-3-1): Sinutkina (Sklemenova 45), Voitane, Gergeleziu, Lubina, Tumane, Gorilla, Gaike (Vitmore 45), Zaickiova, Baliceva (Gricijenko 85), Senberga (Vingrevica 68), Freidenfelde (Skribina 56)
Subs not used: Lindermane, Lodzina, Rozascenoka, Smirnova, Brahmane
Manager: Romans Kvacovs
‘It feels very nice [to break the record],’ White said.
‘I don’t know if you could see it but it was very emotional on the pitch. I feel very proud to represent my country, to score goals but I think it was all about the team tonight.
‘I don’t know if you could see in my face as well but when Alessia (Russo) scored, when Lauren (Hemp) scored, when Jess (Carter) scored, we’ve got some incredibly talented players coming through. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by them but I feel very proud.
‘It did feel really emotional and I feel really lucky that I had all my team-mates there to support me and they were there and celebrating with me as well. I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t emotional because it’s been spoken about so much.
‘I didn’t want to talk about it for a while. I feel very lucky that I can now just concentrate on the team, which is what I always do. And just enjoy playing for England.
‘We move on and don’t mention it ever again. I hopefully get selected again for England and try to do whatever I can for this team, scoring goals, performing.I’m not stopping now. I love playing for England and hopefully we can do something special together.’
Wiegman will have learned little about her team from this performance and has already acknowledged that they need to face tougher opposition before next summer’s Euros.
But the England boss was pleased with how ruthless her side were and with six wins from six games, 53 goals scored and none conceded, she has few complaints.
‘It has been a very special period, a good start with the team. We had 3 international periods now, it has been such a pleasure to work with everyone. I have a very warm welcome with the FA, with the staff and players. Even though we don’t play the best opponents, there’s so much energy in the team and we want to play so well and I think we showed that today.
‘The opponent wasn’t good but you have to play well yourselves, keep the tempo of the game, you have to stay in shape, collaborate, that’s what we did so well. We’re just going and continuing. I’m really enjoying it.’
Ella Toone struck three minutes from the break to put Sarina Wiegman’s side 8-0 up
Georgia Stanway scored the Lionesses’ 10th goal from the spot after Mead was brought down
Mead opened the score after just two-and-a-half minutes before the two moments everybody had been waiting for arrived.
White picked up the ball on the edge of the area and fired a wonderful strike into the top right corner. It felt fitting that the record-breaking goal was a classic poacher’s finish with White tapping in Georgia Stanway’s cross from the six-yard box.
We have become accustomed to White’s close-range finishes but her third was another fantastic long-range strike from the edge of the box. That came at the start of the second half and not long after she was replaced by Russo.
The young Manchester United forward could go on to be White’s successor and she needed just 11 minutes to complete her hat-trick – the future is bright.
England were 8-0 up at half-time with Mead grabbing her hat-trick while Hemp and Ella Toone also found the net before the whistle.
The Lionesses even managed to score a penalty – something they have struggled to do since the 2019 World Cup. Georgia Stanway converted in the 48th minute after Mead had been tripped.
Substitute Jess Carter then scored her first ever England goal in only her second appearance as she tapped in from a corner.
Beth England finally added her name to the scoresheet before Jill Scott got in on the act shortly after. Then came Russo’s quick-fire hat-trick, with another for Hemp and a goal for Nobbs in between to take the score to 19. Hemp then completed the scoring with her fourth to make it 20-0.
Lauren Hemp scored four goals in a record-breaking night for the Lionesses in Doncaster