The UEFA Women’s Euros 2022 – a tournament that will go down in history. With 15 matches still left to play, this summer’s tournament was already the most attended UEFA Women’s Euro in history. England had already broken 2 records in their first 2 games, as well as inspiring thousands of people across the nation.
After being nominated by my football club – Wyrley Juniors – I was able to witness the Lionesses final group game pitchside as a VISA ball girl. Which, after being an avid supporter of women’s football for 4 years, was a dream come true. Being positioned between the England and the Northern Ireland fans allowed me to witness one of the best atmospheres at the tournament so far. The green and white army, who by many have been described as the loudest set of fans at the tournament, never stopped singing despite the game not going the way they had hoped for. There was a particularly familiar face amongst the Northern Ireland squad, Wolves Women’s number 1 Shan Turner, who after a magnificent first season with Wolves had deservedly earned her first senior call up to her national team. We also had a visit from former England, Birmingham City and Chelsea winger Karen Carney who for me, is someone I look up to greatly.
With England’s tournament so far being a huge success with record attendances and millions of people watching their games remotely, women’s football is likely to have a higher following than ever before, generating role models and more opportunities for young girls around the country.
England v Austria
England’s UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 journey started in a perfect fashion as they defeated Austria 1-0 in front of a record breaking crowd of 68,871. Arsenal forward Beth Mead scored the first goal of the tournament with a chip over fellow Arsenal player Manuela Zinsberger. VAR proceeded to review the goal to confirm whether or not the ball had fully crossed the line before Austrian defender Carina Wenninger cleared the ball back into open play. Referee Marta Huerta de Aza confirmed the goal and England’s early lead stood. Substitute Alessia Russo came close to adding to England’s lead as she was left unmarked in the 6-yard box, however the young forward was unable to land the ball in the back of the net. Play ended after 2 minutes of additional time as the first game of the tournament finished in favour of the hosts.
ENGLAND 1-0 AUSTRIA
England v Norway
Another record was broken just five days later as England destroyed Norway 8-0 in their second game in Group A, confirming the Lionesses a place in the quarter finals of the competition. England took the lead in the 12th minute through a Georgia Stanway penalty, after Ellen White was brought down by Norway defender Maria Thorisdottir. Just three minutes later, England’s lead was doubled as Lauren Hemp netted her first goal in a major tournament. White was the next name on the scoresheet, netting her 51st goal for the Lionesses and making it 3-0. Another goal came just five minutes later courtesy of a Beth Mead header. Shortly after, Mead netted her third of the tournament as she danced past the Norwegian defence to extend England’s lead to 5-0. Half time arrived just a few minutes after White scored her second of the game after getting on the end of a Fran Kirby cross. 20 minutes into the second half, young Manchester United forward Alessia Russo was the next to get her name on the scoresheet – scoring her 7th goal in an England shirt. Mead got the final goal, completing her hattrick in the 81st minute, with a strike from close range.
ENGLAND 8-0 NORWAY
England v Northern Ireland
The Lionesses made it three wins from three in their final game of Group A in front of a packed out crowd in Southampton. A game in which I was able to witness pitchside, completing my duties as a ball girl – taking in the noise of both sets of fans around me. It was Northern Ireland who had the first chance of the game, however Lauren Wade’s shot was saved comfortably by Mary Earps. England’s first goal came five minutes before half time, through a spectacular Fran Kirby strike. Beth Mead added a goal just a few minutes later. Sarina Wiegman’s side – being led by assistant Arjan Veurink due to the absence of Wiegman – were quick off the mark in the second half as substitute Alessia Russo scored twice in a matter of minutes. Northern Irish defender Kelsie Burrows had an attempted clearance end up in the back of her own net, giving England their 5th goal of the game.
NORTHERN IRELAND 0-5 ENGLAND
England v Spain
A spectacular extra time comeback in Brighton over Spain – who, for many were favourites to win the tournament – means England have booked their place in Tuesday night’s semi-final. Manager Sarina Wiegman was back on the sidelines after a positive covid test kept her out of the previous game in Southampton. England were first to have the ball in the back of the net as Ellen White tapped it home from close range, the goal was later ruled out due to defender Lucy Bronze being in an offside position. Spain deservedly found an opener as forward Esther Gonzalez slid the ball past the reach of Mary Earps. With just six minutes to go, substitute Ella Toone was able to bring the scores level – taking the game into extra time. Georgia Stanway was England’s saviour, as her strike was too powerful for goalkeeper Sandra Panos and made its way into the back of the net in the sixth minute of extra time.
England will now face Sweden on Tuesday 26th July at Sheffield United’s home – Bramall Lane. Sweden, who narrowly defeated Belgium in their quarter final, won the tournament previously. Last time the two sides met was during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup – in the third place play off game. Goals from Kosovare Asllani and Sofia Jakobsson meant Sweden beat the Lionesses to the bronze medal. Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on BBC One and streamed on BBC iPlayer.
ENGLAND 2-1 SPAIN
The Lionesses face Sweden on Tuesday 26th July and will be hopeful of progressing to Sunday’s final.
ARTICLE BY JESS DEAKIN
My name is Jess Deakin, I’m 15 years old, and have been a season ticket holder at Wolves for 7 years. For the last 4 seasons, I’ve been following Wolves Women which is where my passion for women’s football began.