England could not have done much more. To top their Nations League group and keep their hopes of qualifying for the Olympics on behalf of Team GB alive, they needed to beat Scotland by as big a margin as possible and hope it was enough.
Lucy Bronze had scored at the death to put England back top after the Netherlands had just overtaken them with a late goal of their own against Belgium. As the full-time whistle blew in England’s game, the Dutch scored a fourth goal in the 95th minute to overtake them once again.
It was cruel. But England did not lose the chance of Olympic qualification here. They lost it in Belgium, where poor defending saw them succumb to a 3-2 defeat. They also lost it in the Netherlands, where a lapse in concentration saw the Dutch earn a late 2-1 victory.
They will look back at this Nations League campaign and wonder what could have been. But perhaps, in the long run, a summer of rest after back-to-back major tournaments is not the worst thing for this group of players.
They could not have given more at Hampden Park against a hapless Scotland side. England knew they needed a quick start and they got when Alex Greenwood put them ahead in the 13th minute.
Alex Greenwood opened the scoring for England with a free header in the 13th minute
Lauren James struck twice in the space of a minute to put England 3-0 up in the first-half
The defender was left unmarked from a corner and sent a looping header past a helpless Lee Gibson.
England should have had a second on the half hour mark when Lauren James teed up Lauren Hemp at the back-post, but the forward could only send an effort against the post from five yards out.
Just after the Netherlands had taken a 1-0 lead against Belgium, James struck twice in the space of a minute to put England 3-0 up. The first took a huge deflection off Nicola Docherty to wrong-foot Gibson, but there was no doubting the second – a fantastic strike which sailed into the top right corner.
Another goal was needed to take the Lionesses top of their group and it came just before half-time. James was involved again with a sensational lofted pass which picked out Mead on the right wing. The forward took one touch before hitting a shot over Gibson and into the roof of the net. It was Mead’s first goal for England since rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament in November last year.
The Lionesses knew there were more goals in this game for them and three minutes after half-time it was 5-0. Georgia Stanway drove down the right and cut-back for Kirby to tap-in from two yards out. Bronze then headed in a sixth with the last touch of the game but it was not enough. England’s players were huddled in a group as the Dutch score came through. It was a cruel way to end what has been a memorable year for a special group.
James’ fantastic strike sailed into the top right corner for the third goal in the 39th minute
Bath Mead netted her first goal for England since rupturing her ACL in November last year