Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses concluded their World Cup qualifying campaign sat atop Group D with 10 wins in 10 games, having scored 80 goals and conceded none, after a 10-0 demolition of Luxembourg.
It was not quite the homecoming the FA would have wanted for the team’s first home game since winning Euro 2022. At kick-off the stands were sparsely occupied as supporters decried a “park and ride trip from hell” with heavy traffic, insufficient park and ride buses and breakdowns, leaving huge numbers of fans stranded.
As a result, the atmosphere was somewhat muted, with those that had made it through the turnstiles doing their best to give the retired Jill Scott, who brought out the European Championship trophy ahead of the teams, and Sarina Wiegman, who was presented with a Uefa Coach of the Year award, a welcome worthy of their achievements.
Any expectation that Wiegman would field a vastly different starting XI with qualification for the World Cup secured against Austria on Saturday night was misplaced. The manager has been clear that she does not want to kill the momentum of a team unbeaten during her tenure and that was coupled with a desire to put on a show in front of their first home crowd since winning the Euros.
There was room for three changes, with Ellie Roebuck starting in goal ahead of Wiegman’s first-choice No 1, Mary Earps, Alex Greenwood replacing Millie Bright alongside Leah Williamson at the back, and Nikita Parris starting in place of Lauren Hemp.
It took 11 minutes for England to break the deadlock, but the goal should have come sooner.
Luxembourg are a young team in international football, having been founded in 2003 before playing a first game three years later, and the starting XI included three 18-year-olds and two 16-year-olds.
Russo, who took just seven minutes to score in her first start after six substitute appearances at the Euros, was brought down by Catherine Have in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Stanway who slotted coolly under the goalkeeper Lucie Schlimé.
Russo went close twice before she got her goal in the 18th minute, nodding past Schlimé after Williamson swung the ball to her at the back post. Stanway earned her second after bright play from Mead on the left who cut back for the midfielder to side-foot home.
It was two in two minutes for goals four and five, Ella Toone beat her marker before delivering for Daly to head in, then Daly cut back from the left for Mead whose effort flicked up off the outstretched leg of Schlimé and into the net.
With victory beyond doubt it was time for fresh faces, with Beth England, Katie Zelem and Bright coming on. Beth England added the Lionesses’ sixth within two minutes, tapping in Mead’s cross from the left. Parris got her second goal in as many games, having not scored for England since September 2021 prior to the Austria game. Beth England and Toone combining as they did in Wiener Neustadt before the latter delivered to Parris who slotted past Schlimé.
Parris was tripped in the box for the second penalty and England’s eighth, with Toone sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot. Substitute Lauren Hemp poked in after Schlimé had blocked a Lucy Bronze header and Beth England added the 10th in the dying minutes, heading in from a corner. The performance was routine, clinical and it was characteristic of Wiegman’s England, despite players still being in pre-season.
Up next for the European champions is a Wembley meeting with the World Cup holders, USA, before they play Czech Republic at the Amex stadium in October, the team’s first friendlies as Wiegman turns her attention to readying the side for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next summer.