England have sealed their place in the knock-out stages of the European Championship after a record-breaking 8-0 win over Norway.
The Lionesses continued their fine run of form against the Norwegians as they made it three wins from three competitive fixtures against them – after dumping them out of the last two World Cups.
While it was the Euros this time, the outcome remained the same as England secure their status as group winners after two wins from two group stage games following last week’s 1-0 win against Austria.
Georgia Stanway put England in front after just 10 minutes after the hosts were awarded a penalty following Ellen White’s tumble inside the area. Contact was hardly over-zealous but it was deemed enough for Riem Hussein to point to the spot.
It could have been two just minutes later when Stanway played an inviting pass across the face of goal – but no one could prod home. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before England had their second after Lauren Hemp just about adjusted her feet to convert from a few yards out.
After that, the crowd were barely able to come up for air between celebrations as White and Mead both registered braces before the hall-time whistle was blown with four fantastic England moves all resulting in goals.
The second half didn’t offer quite as many goals, but it did provide a fantastic moment that saw Alessia Russo score her first goal for England to make it seven with a powerful header.
Mead made sure she got her first major tournament hat-trick before the night was done as she responded fastest to a deflected effort and tapped home beyond the helpless Pettersen from no more than six-yards.
The challenge for England now is to ensure feet are kept firmly on the ground and recognise that while it is a stunning win – it is only the second outing of the tournament.
England make history (again)
Monday night’s win marked the first time in European Championship history that a team in either the men’s or women’s edition of the tournament scored seven in a single game.
England were at their rampant best as they peppered Norway’s goal all evening with huge success – the first six strikes all coming inside the opening 45 minutes.
The previous record was actually also held by the Three Lionesses, when they put six past Scotland at Euro 2017. They were even more clinical against a Norway side that will surely be holding a serious inquest as to what happened.
Wiegman’s unbeaten status still in tact
Under Sarina Wiegman, the Lionesses have been nothing short of sensational and are yet to taste defeat since the Dutchwoman was handed the reins.
Monday night’s result at the Amex ensures that run now stretches to 16 games without losing – no easy feat, especially coming up against a nation that has such a proud record in this competition.
Norway are six time finalists at the Euros, while they have actually lifted the trophy on two occasions. But this is not the Norway side of old – as England proved in the most emphatic, brutal fashion.
Over the course of Wiegman’s tenure, England have now scored 93 goals in 16 games and perhaps even more impressively they’ve conceded just three.
Factoring in her time as Netherlands boss, Wiegman has also remarkably never overseen a loss at the Euros in eight games in charge. The records keep tumbling, as England became the first team in Euros history to score six goals in a single half and the first to notch seven or more in any Euros game.
This year’s Euros are the first in the women’s game to have Video Assisted Refereeing as an option to call upon and everyone of an England persuasion will be thankful that is the case.
Minutes after Stanway had opened the scoring, Lauren Hemp bundled home a second from close-range but her celebrations were initially cut short once she looked up and was greeted by the sight of the offside flag.
However, replays showed how the 21-year-old was actually being played onside by multiple Norway defenders. The Amex erupted once the referee had listened to those mulling over the incident from afar and proceeded to point to the centre circle.
With that being said, there is an argument to be made that VAR should have intervened to overturn the decision to award England their spot-kick.
White strikes on the night
England’s record goal-scorer showed exactly why she boasts such a title with an absolute scintillating solo performance for her country.
Her first was a perfect blend of strength and skill after she outmuscled Maria Thorisdóttir before calmly dispatching beyond the onrushing Pettersen.
The second was more of a showcase of her supreme striking instincts as White charged towards the back-post to guide a Fran Kirby cross into the back of the net with her outstretched leg.
The 33-year-old would have been disappointed to see her number go up before she could register her hat-trick, but White can be relieved she is now up in running this tournament with her first strikes of the summer.
England’s relentless press
Norway simply could not cope with the collective engine and intelligence of their opponents as England harried like them seemingly every single time they had the ball.
Rarely were Wiegman’s side actually out of possession such was their level of dominance, but on the rare occasions they were they hunted in packs to ensure they got it back swiftly.
As a result, once they did they were overloading Norway and in turn presenting great chances for lethal counter-attacks. So many times, particularly on the right attacking channel, the Lionesses had acres of green grass to run into as a result of their tireless work off the ball.
In contrast, the visitors were caught in two minds due to being fearful of being picked off if they came and matched England but as a result were sitting ducks and were exposed by a superior side.
Beth Mead was in inspired form down the right-hand side of the Amex pitch all evening as her link-up with with the likes of Stanway and Lucy Bronze caused a headache for Norway throughout.
The Arsenal star found herself in plenty of space inside the opposition penalty area on multiple occasions and registered an assist for Hemp’s tap in which was put on a plate but Mead.
Ellen White was the recipient of an even more exquisite cross just shy of the half hour mark, with Mead delivering a trademark pin-point ball onto to the boot of the Manchester City striker whose effort looped over the cross bar.
Mead got in on the act herself soon after when she met Hemp’s inviting cross to register her 16th goal in 15 games under Wiegman. Less than five minutes later, she had notched a brace after a phenomenal solo run was capped off with a delightfully composed left-footed finish.
Norway could not stop her taking home the match-ball and the Gunners favourite bagged her third with just under 10 minutes to spare. After her best season to date with the Gunners, Mead is having no trouble translating her club form into performances for her country.