ENGLAND’S women sealed their place at next year’s World Cup thanks to a comprehensive victory at the Cardiff City Stadium that leaves Wales’ qualification hopes in the balance.
Jarmo Matikainen’s Welsh women had kept the score down to 2-0 in the reverse fixture at The New Den in October last year but they were no match for England here.
Mark Sampson, the Welshman in charge of England, has now steered his star-studded side to next year’s tournament in Canada with nine wins from nine games and a goal difference of +41.
Wales are now eight points behind England and peering over their shoulders at third-placed Ukraine.
Only one team qualifies from each group, with the four best runners-up contesting two rounds of play-off matches for the remaining World Cup spot.
Wales' final Group Six tie, on September 17, is in Ukraine, who moved to within three points of Matikainen’s side with a game in hand after their 3-1 win in Belarus on Wednesday.
Sampson saw his side break the deadlock after 16 minutes after Jess Fishlock had upended Eniola Aluko 30 yards from goal near the left touchline.
Birmingham City star Karen Carney’s free-kick beat everyone and sailed over Nicola Davies in the Welsh goal.
Angharad James almost levelled for Wales minutes later but her shot from just inside the area was deflected into the arms of visiting ‘keeper Karen Bardsley.
England remained on top and Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs crashed a long-range drive against Davies’ bar as the rain swept into the capital.
And the floodgates opened in the last five minutes of the half to put the outcome beyond any doubt.
England’s second goal came on 40 minutes as Wales centre-back Sophie Ingle missed a header and allowed Aluko the time and space to hammer the ball into the roof of the net from inside the area.
The third arrived shortly afterwards from a corner that wasn’t cleared by the Welsh defence and Laura Bassett poked home at the far post.
And it was 4-0 on the stroke of half-time as Nicola Cousins failed to cut out a searching ball down the right flank and Alex Scott picked out Lianne Sanderson for a free header from ten yards out.
The onslaught continued after the break and Davies did well to tip over a powerful header from Steph Houghton just before the hour mark.
But Wales came back into the match in the last half an hour as the visitors let their foot off the gas.
The hosts’ best opportunity of the second period came thanks to a misplaced pass from Houghton straight into the path of Sarah Wiltshire.
But the Yeovil Town star saw her low shot well saved by Bardsley and the chance was gone.
Wiltshire crossed for Fishlock late on but the skipper’s diving header was off target and the majority of the crowd, a record for a Welsh women’s international in Wales, went home disappointed.
Wales: N. Davies, Dykes (Lawrence, 59), Cousins, K. Davies, Ingle, M. Green (Hawkins, 53), James (J. Green, 87), Fishlock, Harding, Wiltshire, Bleazard
Subs not used: Dando, Wynne, Quayle, Keryakoplis
England: Bardsley, A. Scott, Stokes, Williams (Kirby, 63), Houghton, Bassett, Nobbs, Carney (J. Scott, 68), Sanderson, Duggan, Aluko (Taylor, 61)
Subs not used: Greenwood, Chamberlain, Stoney, Dowie
Referee: Efthalia Mitsi (Greece)
Argus star woman: Eniola Aluko