Two goals from Ellen White helped Team GB secure a convincing 2-0 victory over Chile in the opening game of their Olympics campaign.
In the absence of Fran Kirby, who was deemed unfit to play, head coach Hege Riise opted to start eight Manchester City players.
The key in any major competition is to start with a win, but Riise will no doubt take encouragement from a team effort which saw a number of chances created and several noteworthy individual performances.
An encouraging display
Team GB were outstanding for large parts of the first half, playing the sort of free-flowing attacking football which Riise has demanded for both England and now the British side.
Lauren Hemp continued where she’d left off for Man City at the end of the year, taking on defenders at will and showing composure well beyond her 20 years of age to set up White’s first goal.
In truth, GB could have been three or four to the good by half-time. Chile goalkeeper Christiane Endler demonstrated why she is one of the most revered keepers in women’s football by pulling off a string of fine stops, while Ellen White also had a goal chalked off for offside.
The second half began less frantically and GB looked to have lost some momentum, but the impact of Nikita Parris and Sophie Ingle off the bench injected some fresh impetus and the second goal followed soon after.
From there on, there was little fightback from Chile as Riise’s side closed out the game efficiently.
There had been questions about this GB team before the tournament, given England’s lacklustre form in recent years. Yet this performance proved the team are genuine medal contenders this year, especially with the US succumbing to defeat to Sweden in their opening fixture.
A near-perfect start, though a tougher game against hosts Japan now awaits on Saturday.
White’s sumptuous volley
It was a clinical display from the English striker, who had a goal disallowed early on, but then scored two that counted and almost won a penalty as well.
White was part of the GB team nine years ago in London – her experience showed as she made the most of her chances and proved she is still the best striker in Britain, even at 32 years of age.
Her first came after great work from Hemp, who kept the ball in play following a Lucy Bronze cross and knocked the ball into the path of White to stab home.
If the first goal was somewhat scrappy, the second was anything from it. After Bronze picked up the ball on the edge of the opposition box, the right-back knocked it past one defender and delivered an inch-perfect ball to White, who volleyed home superbly with an acrobatic strike.
As expected, fans were quick to praise the City forward:
Little’s sublime nutmeg
While it was an impressive team performance in general, Kim Little was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch.
The Arsenal captain operated in the number 10 role for much of the game and dictated the tempo superbly –– picking up pockets of space and consistently carrying the ball forwards.
Given the squad is made up of largely English players, the Scot’s performance also highlighted how much better Riise’s side are with talent from all across Britain in the fold.
Little’s majestic performance was best highlighted by her audacious nutmeg in the 61st minute. The midfielder was fed the ball in her own half by Caroline Weir, before turning and knocking the ball through the legs of the helpless Francisca Lara and steering the ball into the path of the marauding Lauren Hemp down the right.
Fans on social media were quick to laud the 31-year-old for this skill.
The Times’ Molly Hudson wrote on Twitter: “Did someone tell Kim Little she gets a bonus for every nutmeg?”
Echoing this sentiment, Ameé Ruszkai, Goal’s women’s football correspondent stressed: “There are few greater joys in women's football than watching Kim Little play as a No.10”.
Take a look at the best of the reactions here:News Now - Sport News