England win opening game against Austria

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England won on Wednesday, by 1 but to 0, their opening match of the Women’s Euro 2022 against Austria. The crowd at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium gave their team a very warm welcome.

The English “Lionesses” (Lionesses) successfully launched “their” Euro with a narrow but precious victory against a brave Austria (1-0), Wednesday July 6 at Old Trafford, in front of 68,871 people, a record for a match European Women’s Championship.

After days of feverish expectation, the public at Manchester United’s stadium gave a very warm welcome to those they hope will avenge English honour, one after the men’s final defeat on penalties against England. Italy.

As soon as they arrived on the pitch for the warm-up, an indescribable hubbub arose from the stands, which were still sparsely filled, and the God Save the Queen was sung with the fervor of great sporting moments.

Hesitant first minutes

The first minutes were a little hesitant, however, due both to understandable nervousness, which led to an unusual loss for the English, and to the great intensity put in by the Austrians, as their coach, Irene Fuhrmann, had told them. asked before the game.

The game of the Lionesses, with beautiful ball outings, the search for a gap on the sides but also individual risk-taking in one-on-one, has nevertheless ended up being put in place.

Forwards Lauren Hemp and Beth Mead poisoned the Austrian defense with their ability to outflank or go inside. It is moreover to Mead that returned the honor of delivering the whole stadium. Well started in the back of the defense, she was found by Fran Kirby and she lobbed the goalkeeper, the “goal line” confirming that the desperate rescue of Carina Wenninger had come a bit too late (1-0, 17th). This goal finished freeing the Lionesses who should never have reached the break with only one goal in advance.

Lack of realism to be corrected

Ellen White, for example, missed the target twice on headers completely in her strings (27th, 44th), while Hemp saw her recovery deflected by Austrian goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger, from a handball player stop just before halftime.

Alessia Russo, awkward up close (71st), Chloe Kelly too individualistic after a rush from midfield (76th) also left England within reach and without a superb save from Mary Earps (78th), the evening could have turned to disillusion.

This lack of realism will certainly be the main lesson that the very perfectionist Sarina Wiegman will have learned from this match and that she will want to correct at all costs if her players want to meet the expectations placed on her.

The 52-year-old Dutchwoman, who led the Netherlands to victory at home in 2017, will be aiming for nothing less than the final victory on July 31 at Wembley, when England were stopped in the semi-finals during of the last two Worlds and the last Euro

A promising and undecided Euro

The Lionesses are also undefeated since the arrival of Wiegman, i.e. 15 games now, having beaten Germany (3-1), winner of eight of the previous twelve Euros, and, very recently, the Netherlands (5 -1).

But these 13th European Women’s Nations Championships look promising and undecided. Group B, which will designate the opponent of the English if they go to the quarters, will be particularly tough with Germany, Spain – even deprived of its star Alexia Putellas victim of a rupture of the cruciate ligaments – and Denmark, finalist in 2017.

Likewise, Norway, who are in the England group, remain a real threat, especially with the return of Ada Hegerberg, while Sweden and the Dutch title holders, who will face each other in Group C, or France (group D) can beat anyone.

All of this will take place under unprecedented media exposure for European women’s football, reflecting its weather development in recent years. More than 500,000 of the 750,000 tickets on sale have already found takers and UEFA is hoping for 250 million viewers.

The endowments, still light years away from those of the men, have been revised significantly upwards, even if the choice of certain stadiums, in particular the Manchester Academy Stadium which, in Euro configuration, will not even accommodate 5,000 spectators, an irritated players and supporters. Despite this, the record number of spectators will be further improved before the end of the competition, for the final, reaching around 87,000.

With AFP


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