By Connor Wagner
The Lionesses made a winning start to their Euro 2022 campaign after beating Austria 1-0 in their opening group game of the Women’s Euros in front of a record-breaking crowd of 68,871 at Old Trafford England controlled the tempo of the game in the opening minutes, and just ten minutes into the first half saw the first real chance of the game.
Lucy Bronze’s precision cross met the head of Lauren Hemp but couldn’t guide goal wards. Promising signs for England early on.
The breakthrough came just six minutes later.
Frank Kirby lifted a great ball over Austria’s defence which was met by the touch of Mead, who cleverly slotted past Zinsberger to put the Lionesses ahead. Efforts were made by Wenniger to clear it off the line but couldn’t get there in time. The early goal for Wiegman’s women to calm the nerves.
The early goal seemed to wake the Lionesses up, as ten minutes later Lauren Hemp made a darting run down the line who was able to pick out the head of Ellen White who was unable to guide the ball goal bound.
Austria’s turn to attack and attack they did. Waves of pressure as Zadrazil curled a great cross into a crowded six-yard box, but Earps and Bronze were able to combine to clear any danger England may have found themselves in.
A very quiet patch in the middle of the first half with minimal chances. That was until Austria pushed high up the field to create a chance. Puntigam squeezed a great ball through which ends up finding Dunst, who whipped a dangerous cross into the six-yard area, but Bright was there to meet it to relieve the danger.
One final chance for the Lionesses before the half. White was able to win the ball from Wenniger before squaring into Kirby who found goal scorer Mead, but Zinsberger was able to make herself big to help the shot over. Half time whistle blew at Old Trafford, and England had a lot to work on for Wiegman’s side, ruthlessness being the key for the second half. England led at the break but still had more to do.
The second half started slow; it wasn’t until the 56th minute saw the opening chance of the half. Hanshaw was able to pick out Naschenweng from a throw-in and drilled a shot across goal but was no trouble for Mary Earps. Austria were very much on the back foot for much of the game but came close to a leveller in the 78th as England goalkeeper Mary Earps did well to keep out a curling effort from Barbara Dunst.
Beth Mead’s composed finished would be the difference in this match as Wiegman’s woman saw out the test of Austria winning 1-0 at Old Trafford. "It was the first game of the tournament," said Wiegman shortly after the game. "It's so important to win the game to have a good start. I think we showed different phases in this game, some good and some not-so-good," she added.
Mead was taken aback by the crowd after the full-time whistle."Beyond words. What an amazing night to start the tournament with a win. I'm happy to get a goal for the team," she told the BBC.
England kick on to Monday, where they take on Norway in their second group game at the Falmer Stadium.