Eniola Aluko’s hat-trick in the 10-0 win over Montenegro ensured England finished their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 100 per cent record – and the striker hopes this is just the beginning.
It was the 27-year-old’s first international treble and it brought her tally up to 13 goals in 10 matches, making her the joint-top scorer in the qualifiers.
She is arguably the Three Lions' most in-form player as she has scored 17 times in her last 23 internationals – she had only netted 10 goals in the previous 61.
FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Group 6 qualifier
Wednesday 17 September 2014
And she credits her head coach Mark Sampson with giving her the confidence to find the back of the net with such regularity.
Aluko said: “I’m over the moon.
“At the beginning of the campaign, for me it was all about getting into the team. Mark was a new coach with new ideas and I didn’t know where I fitted in.
“But I worked really hard and spoke to him about how I can improve and I’m really pleased that nine months later I’m sitting here saying I’ve got 13 goals, finishing on a hat-trick.
“It’s a really nice feeling, something that gives me the confidence to keep going and getting better.”
She continued: “Our playing style helps me. Mark likes very dynamic forwards and players that like to get in behind. I like to come to feet probably a bit too much, rather than using my pace, so I’ve had to tweak that side of my game and get in behind defences.
“Mark has been hard on me but he has focused on what I do well and how I can better that. As a result I have grown as a player. Hopefully this is just the beginning.”
England’s win in Petrovac was their biggest of the qualifying campaign – against opposition they had defeated 9-0 in Brighton in April.
Having sealed qualification courtesy of last month’s 4-0 win in Wales, the result was immaterial but Aluko said the expectation to run up a cricket score has its drawbacks, particularly for forward players.
She added: “It’s actually quite tough to play against that type of opposition because you don’t really have a rest.
“In other games sometimes when the ball is up the other end as a forward you get a bit of a rest, but games like this are just constant movement, trying to create space for yourself, trying to create chance after chance.
“Mentality it can be quite draining but it was important for us to stay professional and we did that. Everyone is really pleased, both with this game and the qualifying campaign overall.”
England will discover their World Cup opponents when the draw is made in Ottawa on 6 December, and before that they will take on current European champions Germany at Wembley on Sunday 23 November.
Before the Montenegro qualifier, Sampson said he wanted his side to be ruthless, a sentiment echoed by goalkeeper Carly Telford.
And the Chelsea player reiterated those words with Canada 2015 less than nine months away.
She said: “Anybody who is looking at England will now be aware how strong we are.
“Hopefully they will start associating words like ‘ruthless’ and ‘dominant’ with us. We want to go into a World Cup with teams fearing us.
“It doesn’t end here though. We cannot get carried away. We have got to make sure keep raising our standards and that will be easy for us because Mark is always raising the bar.
“It’s exciting to be part of this team and hopefully we can all keep growing individually and as a team.”
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS