England’s impressive goal tally now stands at 124 in the quarter century of games under Wiegman and perhaps the only frustration of Friday night’s win was that her team dipped ever so slightly below their five-goal-per-game average.
What was so impressive about the victory was that the penultimate game of a historic calendar year threatened to be an understated affair. A far cry from even the sold-out friendlies since the Euro 2022 win, Japan are former World Cup winners and boast a fearsome reputation of their own.
That, however, mattered little. From kick-off, the European champions proved too quick for the Japanese press and too fierce for any idea their opposition had of building attacks of their own. Intense from the off, Japan were kept at bay for the entire evening.
When Rachel Daly opened the scoring with a fine left-footed finish just over half an hour into the game, it was the least England deserved. Bossing the bulk of the possession, Daly’s experience as a forward came to the fore as she picked up on a loose ball before nutmegging her marker with an ice-cool shot past Ayaka Yamashita.
After the break, things really picked up. Euros heroine Chloe Kelly powered in a brilliant finish of her own before substitutes Lauren James and Ebony Salmon combined to free Ella Toone, allowing the Manchester United forward to dig out a delicate dink over the onrushing ‘keeper.
The best moment, however, was still to come. Debutant Jess Park was afforded what looked like a complimentary run out in the dying embers but, such is the relentless pursuit for more in this team, the Everton loanee was able to tap in her first goal only 97 seconds into her bow after some heroic pressing from Salmon. Even at 3-0 up, this England team simply do not quit.
With Park, Salmon and James playing major roles, the future looks just as bright as the present.