It was an emphatic start to 2024 for Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses as they swept Austria aside in Algeciras. Braces from Alessia Russo and Beth Mead and goals from Grace Clinton, Jess Carter and Rachel Daly saw them earn a 7-2 victory. 

The Action

It was a dominant performance from England as they embarked on a fresh start after the disappointment of missing out on Paris 2024. There was space for lesser seen faces as Hannah Hampton started in goal and Grace Clinton made her senior debut while Maya Le Tissier and Esme Morgan were both named in the 11.

The Lionesses hit the ground running, taking just three minutes to open their account. The intensity of their attacking line was evident from the off and a slick turn from Russo sent Mead on her way. With her typical directness, the Arsenal winger broke into the box before seeing her shot parried by Manuela Zinsberger. Unfortunately for the Austrian goalkeeper, she got nowhere near enough on it and, with the defence hesitant, Russo stormed in to poke it home.

They doubled their lead when Clinton added another, leaping high to head home Hemp’s cross in the 19th minute before Austria hit back with a goal of their own when Virginia Kirchberger nodded home from a corner. Mead, however, restored the deficit before the break with a left-footed curling finish to ensure her side were comfortable.

 

England celebrate Grace Clinton's goal vs Austria, February 2024

 

With Wiegman trying out different combinations, the midfield were showing their versatility with Georgia Stanway and Clinton both excelling. They ratcheted up the pressure in the second half and Russo added her second with a clinical finish. England’s fifth came from a somewhat unlikely source – Jess Carter, on as a substitute, with a sublime back-heeled flick of a finish.

England were punished for their lax defending at corners once again when Kirchberger headed home her second of the night. It was the one blemish on an otherwise complete performance. They added to more as Mead fired home a rebound after Lauren James had hit the post and Daly broke through Austria’s defensive line to add a seventh.

 

Stand Out Moment

There is no better way to mark you debut than scoring a goal. Grace Clinton impressed throughout the evening in a slightly deeper role to where she normally plays and grabbed her opportunity. Her header 19th minute header was the icing on the cake, rising to power home a well-worked cross from Hemp. Her teammates were as delighted as she was, a demonstration of the impact she has had since her inclusion in the senior setup.

 

England’s Stand Out Performer

Beth Mead got a bit of a shock when she realised she was, at just 28, won of the oldest players on the field for England. “I’d like to call it experience now,” she joked post match. Her performance, however, was one that emphasised the importance she plays in Wiegman’s side. Her energy and directness helped to drive everyone forward while her finishing was second-to-none. Her first was the pick of her two goals, a strike the illustrated her quality throughout.

 

Quote of the Day

“I think she did well. At Bayern Munich, she plays a little deeper too. It fits her to play behind the ball or to be involved in the build. For us, she’s played mostly at the 8 – so sometimes a little deeper; sometimes a little higher. But this role suits her really well too. That’s what we wanted to see today… “That’s what we want. As much as possible, we want to have opportunities with the players to get to solve football problems in the game. You have to see that now now it’s a friendly so we can make the best decisions when we go into the Nation’s League.”

Sarina Wiegman on playing Stanway as a no. 6 and the versatility of her midfield

 

 

Teams

ENGLAND

Hannah Hampton; Maya Le Tissier, Esme Morgan, Alex Greenwood (c), Niamh Charles; Georgia Stanway; Grace Clinton, Ella Toone; Beth Mead, Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp

Subs: Mary Earps, Khiara Keating, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Lauren James, Jess Carter, Rachel Daly, Jess Park, Keira Walsh, Fran Kirby, Millie Turner, Aggie Beever-Jones, Lucy Bronze

Manager: Sarina Wiegman

AUSTRIA

Manuela Zinsberger; Katharina Schiechtl, Marina Georgieva, Virginia Kirchberger, Katharina Naschenweng; Lilli Purtscheller, Sarah Zadrazil, Sarah Punitgam, Barbara Dunst; Eileen Campbell, Marie Höbinger

Subs: Isabella Kresche, Jasmin Pal, Verena Hanshaw, Laura Feiersinger, Annabel Schasching, Nicole Billa, Lisa Kolb, Jennifer Klein, Chiara D’Angelo, Viktoria Pinther

Manager: Irene Fuhrmann

 

 

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