Women's World Cup 2015 qualifier: Ukraine 1-2 England

Steph Houghton
England need a point against Wales or Montenegro to reach the finals in Switzerland

England moved to within a point of reaching the 2015 World Cup finals as early goals by Casey Stoney and Eniola Aluko earned a 2-1 win against Ukraine.

Former captain Stoney, making her first start since Mark Sampson took over as head coach in December, headed the 11th-minute opener in Lviv.

Chelsea's Aluko doubled the lead with her ninth goal of the campaign before Olha Ovdiychuk replied for Ukraine.

Wales are the now only team who can pip England to top spot in Group Six.

Natasha Harding's late hat-trick gave the Welsh a 3-0 win in Belarus.

Sampson's team are five points clear of an improving Welsh side with both sides having two matches remaining.

The two home nations face each other in Wales in August, England having won a hard-fought reverse fixture 2-0, before England conclude their campaign against Montenegro.

"Wales have got the talent and ability to cause us problems," said Sampson, previously manager of a Bristol Academy side that included striker Harding.

"We will have to be at our best to get the result we want," he added. "The game will be as difficult as this one against Ukraine.

"In the first half we played really well, created chances and might have got more than two goals.

"In the second half they put us on the back foot at times, but apart from the goal they scored they never really threatened.

"The most important thing was the result, and I'm delighted we've got the win that's taken us so close to qualifying.

"We've got two matches to get the one point we need - but we'll be going for six."

Stoney's goal came from a corner by midfielder Fara Williams, whose appearance saw her draw level with Rachel Yankey's record of 129 England caps.

Aluko scored with the simplest of finishes, tapping the ball over the line to ensure Jill Scott's shot found the net.

Ukraine, encouraged by a big home crowd at the Arena Lviv, hit back with a series of attacks but without threatening a goal.

The home side reduced the arrears when left winger Ovdiychuk scored from close range following midfielder Lyudmyla Pekur's corner.

It was the first goal conceded by England in their eight qualifiers, the clean sheet record ended after 693 minutes of group football.

Sampson added: "The girls were disappointed to lose their clean sheets record but we got three points and I was delighted with their effort and application."

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