THE introduction of VAR for the first time at a women’s World Cup sent England on their way to a win in the opening Group D match in Nice. Phil Neville’s side took complete control of the first half once Nikita Parris had scored from the spot and looked to have the game sewn up until Claire Emslie sparked a late comeback.

In the event it wasn’t quite enough against a side ranked No.3 in the world, but given that England were faster, stronger and moved the ball about better for most of the game, it was a scoreline which gave Shelley Kerr’s side some hope for the next two group matches. They play Japan in Rennes on Friday and Argentina in Paris five days later.

Although it was 6pm local time when the game kicked off, conditions were hot and humid in the Allianz Riviera, which also hosted England and Northern Ireland games at Euro 2016.

Kerr made two changes to the side which beat Jamaica 3-2 in last month’s send-off game at Hampden – Reading defender Sophie Howard coming in to add strength at right back and Christie Murray replacing top scorer Jane Ross, with Erin Cuthbert being pushed forward into the striker’s role.

Captain Rachel Corsie, Caroline Weir and Lisa Evans were the only survivors from the side which was humbled 6-0 by England in Utrecht.

Erin Cuthbert, who scored Scotland’s first goal at a major championship when she netted against Portugal in the second game of the Euros, had the honour of getting her side’s first touch at a World Cup when she kicked off.

An open first ten minutes were to prove easily Scotland’s best of what was to become a torrid first half for Kerr’s side. Cuthbert, released by Lisa Evans, ran into the box with Steph Houghton on her heels and the England captain did enough to stop her getting her shot away.

Most of England’s early attacking thrusts came down the right and it paid off for them after twelve minutes. Lucy Bronze, who plays in France for Champions League holders Lyon, set up Fran Kirby for a cross into the box.

Although it wasn’t picked up immediately by referee Jana Adamkova, the ball struck full back Nicola Docherty’s outstretched left arm as it went over. The Czech official was alerted and after looking at the evidence pointed to the spot.

Glasgow City goalkeeper Lee Alexander, who had saved a penalty against Poland in qualifying, guessed correctly, but the penalty from Parris was well struck into her top right hand corner.

Scotland were very lucky not to go further behind when England twice went close around the 20 minute mark. Kirby was narrowly wide with a shot and then Alexander made a great save at her near post from Jill Scott’s first time volley.

England were in complete control and Alexander proved her worth again just after the half hour. This time she used a foot to deny Beth Mead, but the second goal duly arrived five minutes from the interval.

Kirby, playing through the middle and a constant threat to the Scotland defence, won a challenge outside the box with Corsie. The ball broke to Ellen White and she dispatched a shot crisply past Alexander.

Cuthbert, with an opportunistic shot, almost pulled one back before the interval but the ball slid just wide of Karen Bardsley’s right hand post.

There were only seconds on the clock after the restart when England had the ball in the net following a sweet move down the right, but to Scotland’s relief there was an offside in the build-up which ruled out Mead’s finish.

Kerr made her first substitution nine minutes into the half, with Manchester United’s Kirsty Smith, who had started on the right against Jamaica, coming on for left back Docherty. Yet again, though, England nearly benefited from a move down the right, with Scott heading just over.

Cuthbert, whose fighting spirit hadn’t been diminished by the one-sided nature of the first hour, sparked a short spell of attacking at the England end, but Bardsley and her defenders dealt easily with successive corners from either side and the England keeper also easily saved a Claire Emslie shot.

In entire keeping with what had gone on before, when Neville’s side then got a corner they nearly scored. Alexander again had to be at her best to dive to her left and parry away the ever-dangerous Scott’s attempt from close range.

Scotland’s best chance of the game arrived with 15 minutes remaining. Smith slipped a ball into the box for Evans, but the Arsenal forward couldn’t get her shot away cleanly. She very quickly got another sight of goal but crossed instead of taking a chance with a shot.

It took only minutes for Evans to make amends and set up Scotland’s goal. The former Glasgow City and Bayern Munich player drove forward through - the middle and found Emslie to her right – and at last there was a moment for Scotland to celebrate as she used her determination to get a shot away and past Bardsley.