England manager Serena Weigman showed the record crowd of 69,000 how far the women’s game has come, as the Tigers started Euro 2022 with a 1-0 win over Austria. The previous best attendees for a match at the European Women’s Championships broke nearly 30,000.
Within the Theater of Dreams, the vast majority achieved what they wanted to see, as Beth Mead’s opening goal ensured that the hosts claimed victory despite their sub-performances.
“It was incredible, (and there are no words),” Wegman said.
“It’s incredible, from where we came from, playing in front of 70,000 here at Old Trafford.
“I hope they keep coming and they will come because we have sold the stadium.”
Home advantage is just one of the reasons why England are considered favorites to win their first major women’s tournament.
Wagman, who led the Netherlands to victory at Euro 2017, is now unbeaten in 15 games since taking charge in September.
In a nerve-wracking start, the weight of expectations fell heavily on the hosts.
However, he kicked the tournament to the ground in the 16th minute when Fran Kirby’s high pass knocked Maid out and Arsenal’s forward calmly lifted the ball over his club mate Manuela Zinberger.
Carina Weinberger tried desperately to clear but the ball had already crossed the line before her intervention.
England then settled into a rhythm that saw them score 85 goals and conceded just three in the Wagman era.
Alan White should have added to his record 50 international goals for England when the Manchester City striker put forward an impressive delivery by Lauren Hemp.
Zinberger then showed why he is the best goalkeeper in the world with a crucial stop to thwart Hamp’s efforts in stoppage time in the first half.
England’s power shone through a comprehensive pre-tournament friendly win against Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Yet this time around, the triple change by Wigman had little effect on the hour mark for introducing the short legs of Ella Tone, Chloe Kelly and Alicia Russo.
Instead, as the two sides faced off in World Cup qualifiers in November, England had to settle for a narrow margin of victory as Austria remained steadfast and could snatch a shock point.
Marie Erps was forced to push Barbara Dunst’s curling attempt out of the box before saving more than Julia Hecklesberger-Fuller, as England did.
“The most important thing is to win the first game,” said England midfielder Georgia Steinway, who won the man-of-the-match award.
“It puts you in a good position, to be able to fix yourself in the tournament. There is room for improvement.
“The opportunity was huge, there were definitely some nerves.”
England’s next match will be against Norway in Brighton on Monday in which they will have the toughest test of the group stage.
On the same day, Austria will play Northern Ireland in Southampton.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)
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