At Euro 2022’s first match against Austria, England’s Sarina Wiegman lauded the record attendance of 69,000 for demonstrating how far the women’s game has gone. Almost 30,000 more people attended the women’s European Championship match than ever before.
At the end, Beth Mead’s early goal clinched victory for the hosts despite a subpar effort in the Theatre of Dreams.
There aren’t enough words to describe how fantastic that was for him.
“From where we’ve been, it’s incredible to be playing in front of 70,000 people at Old Trafford.
I hope they come back because we’ve sold out the stadiums, and I believe they will.
This year’s Women’s World Cup in England offers a great opportunity for England to win their first major championship.
It has now been 15 games since Wiegman’s appointment in September that the Netherlands have gone undefeated.
In a jittery start, the hosts seemed to be feeling the pressure of expectation.
But they got the tournament started with a bang in the 16th minute when Fran Kirby’s lofted cross found Mead, who calmly lifted the ball over Arsenal colleague Manuela Zinsberger.
Despite Carina Wenninger’s best efforts to clear the ball, it had already crossed the goal line before she stepped in.
After that, England found its stride under Wiegman, scoring 85 goals and allowing just three.
When Lauren Hemp sent a dangerous cross, Manchester City striker Ellen White had a golden opportunity to add to her tally of 50 goals for England.
First-half stoppage time saw Zinsberger make a crucial save to thwart Hemp’s shot, showing why she is regarded as a top goalkeeper in the world.
Pre-tournament friendly victories against Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland showed England’s strength in depth.
Ella Toone, Chloe Kelly, and Alessia Russo were brought in when Wiegman made a triple change on the hour mark, but they had little effect.
Instead, England had to settle for a narrow win as Austria held tight and may have even stolen a surprise point from the World Cup qualifier.
Earps saved a curling shot form outside the box by Barbara Dunst before making a more easy stop from Julia Hickelsberger-Fuller as England held on.
As Georgia Stanway, an England midfielder who earned player of the match, put it: “The most essential thing is winning that first game.”
“We are in a terrific position to settle into the competition as a result of this. There’s always space for growth.
“Of course there were some anxieties because of the magnitude of the event.”
It is anticipated to be England’s most difficult match of the group stages when they meet Norway in Brighton on Monday.