Beth Mead scored a superb opening purpose of what guarantees to be a particular event, however England have to make extra of their expertise to win it.
The group was very huge, very loud and England appeared very nervy within the first couple of minutes at Outdated Trafford. It’s a house event they’re anticipated to win, or at the very least get very deep into. England are essentially the most invested-in staff in Europe and the Gameplan for Progress technique launched by the FA 5 years in the past focused success for the staff at Euro 2022. They have been unbeaten in all 14 video games underneath Sarina Wiegman earlier than this opening sport of the event, successful 12, scoring 84 and conceding simply 3. They’re effectively prepped, effectively managed and have world class gamers.
They’ve been behind simply as soon as underneath the brand new supervisor, roaring again to beat the Netherlands – with whom Wiegman received the final European Championships in 2017 – 5-1 within the penultimate pleasant two weeks in the past. And regardless of the early nerves, which noticed captain Leah Williamson misplace passes and the primary contact of all of the Lionesses being lower than assured, it took them simply over 16 minutes to take the lead.
Georgia Stanway, though circuitously concerned within the opening purpose, was the catalyst for England. Whereas these round her nonetheless suffered with the jitters, the Manchester Metropolis midfielder put her foot on the ball and eased what had been a fevered begin to the sport. She allowed the great inventive expertise in entrance of her – Beth Mead, Fran Kirby and Lauren Hemp – to weave patterns of play Austria have been unable to maintain tabs on.
Hemp, who one would possibly describe as being sh*t fast, had already put a few harmful crosses into the field having left the poor sod making an attempt to mark her for useless. But it surely was Kirby and Mead who linked up so superbly to present England the lead. Kirby is an skilled at discovering herself in house and creating extra. She let a knockdown transfer throughout her physique earlier than delivering the proper lofted cross by for Mead, who managed the ball expertly on her chest earlier than dinking it over Arsenal teammate Manuela Zinsberger. It was a wonderful end.
And no imply feat given the Austria stopper had essentially the most clear sheets within the WSL final season (13 in 20 begins), and Zinsberger got here off her line shortly to disclaim Hemp simply earlier than half-time. Ellen White had robbed an Austrian defender of possession, discovered Kirby who had damaged past her, however the Chelsea playmaker’s cross throughout the field was heavy and compelled Hemp to take a contact earlier than her shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. It actually ought to have been 2-0.
England may have harder assessments, seemingly on Monday in opposition to Norway, and the defence shall be a fear for Wiegman. Millie Shiny was good and constantly in the suitable place on the proper time, in what you would possibly name ‘the John Terry place’ on the entrance submit, however the concern is that she needed to be. Austria had little possession within the last third, however once they did, a cross was invariably delivered into the field. Higher supply, extra motion or each would have resulted in clear-cut possibilities and potential objectives. Neither Lucy Bronze or Rachel Daly did sufficient to cease these crosses, however have been additionally missing assist from the midfielders, who far too often left the defence to their very own units.
It was a good, if not fully convincing, show from England; there’s definitely loads of house for them to develop because the event goes on. The energy in depth, significantly within the ahead areas, is what can take them a good distance. Mead, Kirby and White have been changed simply after the hour mark by Ella Toone, Chloe Kelly and Alessia Russo, all of whom offered additional impetus with no noticeable dip in high quality.
Few groups, if any, have such an abundance of expertise to name on. England simply have to discover a method of taking advantage of it.