the English Lionesses win the opening game

England’s Lionesses successfully started ‘their’ Euros with a narrow but valuable win over a brave Austrian (1-0) at Old Trafford on Wednesday in front of a crowd of 68,871, a record for a Women’s Europe league game .

After days of feverish anticipation, the crowd at Manchester United’s stadium greeted those they hope will avenge England’s honour, a year after the men’s final penalty shootout defeat by Italy.

Hardly arrived on the square to warm up, an indescribable hustle and bustle arose in the still sparsely filled grandstands and God Save the Queen was sung with the fervor of great sporting moments.

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It was “amazing to play here at Old Trafford in front of 68,000 people with a lot of noise to support us. I hope it continues,” said England manager Sarina Wiegman after the game.

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However, the first few minutes were a bit hesitant, both due to the understandable nervousness that led to an unusual defeat for the English and the high intensity of the Austrians.

“I’m very proud of our performance, but we’re leaving empty-handed and a bit bitter because we (…) had a couple of chances,” regretted her coach Irène Fuhrmann. The game of the lionesses with beautiful ball excursions, the search for a gap on the sides, but also individual willingness to take risks in one-on-one has nevertheless established itself. Forwards Lauren Hemp and Beth Mead poisoned Austria’s defense with their ability to flank or go inside.

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It’s also Mead who returned the honor of delivering Old Trafford.

Many possibilities

Started well in defence, she was found by Fran Kirby and lulled the Austrian goalkeeper, the ‘goal line’ confirming that Carina Wenninger’s desperate save had come too late (1-0, 17′).

That goal completed the relief for the Lionesses, who shouldn’t have come into the break with just a goal advantage. Ellen White, for example, twice missed the goal completely in her clutches with a header (27′, 44′), while Hemp saw her restart deflected by Austrian goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger after a handball stop just before half-time.

Alessia Russo, awkward up close (71′), Chloe Kelly too individualistic after a rush from midfield (76′), also brought England within reach and without a brilliant save by Mary Earps (78′), the evening would have been sobering be able.

“Sometimes we rushed a bit in the last third of the field. We created a lot of chances, but we failed at the last gesture or at the decision-making because, for example, shoot or not,” Wiegman regretted.

A deficiency she is determined to remedy if her players are to live up to the expectations placed on her.

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

France in Sunday’s race

The Lionesses are also unbeaten since Wiegman’s arrival, ie 15 games, after beating Germany (3-1), winners of eight of the previous 12 Euros, and most recently the Netherlands (5-1).

But this 13th European Women’s Nations Championship looks promising and a draw.

Group B, which decides England’s opponent if they advance to the quarter-finals, will be particularly difficult with Germany, Spain – even without star Alexia Putellas, a cruciate ligament victim – and Denmark, 2017 finalists.

Likewise, Norway, who are in the English group, remain a real threat, especially with the return of Ada Hegerberg, while Sweden and defending champions Netherlands, who meet in Group C, or France (Group D) can beat either.

Corinne Deacon’s players owe their tournament against Italy (21:00 CET) on Sunday.

As many opponents as the Lionesses will have to overcome if they hope to make it to the final on July 31, when a new record 87,000 people are expected to be seated at Wembley Stadium.

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