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Rampant England thrash Norway


England 8 (Stanway pen 9, Hemp 14, White 28,41, Mead 35,38,81, Russo 66)

Norway 0

att: 28,847, at the Amex Stadium

Amazing sums it up. England became the first team to book their place in the quarter finals after an astonishing eight-goal victory over Norway at Brighton.


In June 2000, England suffered the worst day in their women's football history when they suffered an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of Norway in a qualifier for the Euro 2001 Finals. Just over 22 years later, that scoreline was fully avenged and led by a dazzling performance from Beth Mead and some abject defending from Norway, Sarina Wiegman's side ruthlessly punished their opponents time and again to set up a new record score in the tournament's history.


Ironically, Norway started the game the brighter of the two sides without really troubling Mary Earps but England were given the break they wanted though on nine minutes through a highly contentious penalty award. Ellen White tumbled in the area under pressure from Maria Thorisdottir and contact appeared to be minimal, if any at all, but VAR did not reverse the decision and Georgia Stanway stepped up to plant her shot in the corner of the net.


Norway looked rattled by the decision and England went for a quick second. Beth Mead got to the line and played the ball across for Lauren Hemp to tap in and although the flag was initally raised for offside, VAR adjudged that the decision was incorrect and the goal stood.


It could have been three as White volleyed over from eight yards after being picked out by a teasing cross from Mead. However just two minutes later, White was handed another chance after Mead won the ball from Thorisdottir and played her through on goal, and this time the striker showed her usual composure to slide the ball past the oncoming Guro Pettersen.


Norway were all over the place at the back as the England forwards repeatedly pulled them out of position and Mead was next to go close with an angled drive which just beat the far post. Another goal was looking inevitable though and once again it came after a Norway defender was dispossessed, White winning the ball off Maren Mjelde and laying the ball back for Stanway who whipped in a cross for Mead to glance a neat header into the corner of the net.


Three more minutes and after receiving the ball from Fran Kirby on the edge of the area, Mead duly waltzed past three Norwegian defenders before planting the ball in the corner of the net.


Just 24 hours earlier, France had set a tournament record with five first half goals in their win over Italy. This was to last barely a day, as Kirby ran unchallenged into the area and although her shot looked destined for the back of the net, the predatory White was on hand to make sure from close range for her second and England's sixth.


Inevitably, England could not keep this tempo up as play resumed in the second half whilst Norway brought on an extra defender in Guro Bersgvand to try and tighten things up. However, they still did not press any England players in possession and the Lionesses continued to probe and dictate whilst seeking further goals.


A triple substitution just before the hour helped freshen things up and within ten minutes of coming on, Alessia Russo joined the scoring spree as she rose above Bergsvand at the far post to thump home a header from a Lucy Bronze cross.


Norway's talented and much vaunted attacking trio of Ada Hegerberg, Guro Reiten and Caroline Graham Hansen had been virtual spectators since the opening ten minutes, aside from kicking off every few minutes, all three of whom being substituted during the second half, whilst goalkeeper Pettersen must have felt like a duck in a shooting gallery as England rained in efforts on her goal.


Ella Toone headed straight at Pettersen whilst Russo almost netted a second as her shot was blocked on the line, the rebound fell straight to Mead but for once her control let her down. A minute later the other substitute, Alex Greenwood, went close herself with a strike from the edge of the area which rattled the bar.


With nine minutes remaining, Chloe Kelly cut the ball back for Keira Walsh whose deflected shot was blocked by the legs of Pettersen, with Mead reacting quickest to guide home the rebound and complete her fourth hat-trick for England since Wiegman took charge of the team.


Toone did miss a great opportunity to make it nine as she put the ball over the bar with the goal gaping after once again, an England player won the ball off a shellshocked Norway defender, this time Russo doing the work.


The final whistle put Norway out of their misery and left England to celebrate a match, and result, they could not have dreamed of beforehand. Qualification is now assured, with one group match against Northern Ireland to come on Friday night.


England: Mary Earps, Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly (sub Alex Greenwood 56mins), Keira Walsh, Millie Bright, Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, Georgia Stanway (sub Jill Scott 80mins), Ellen White (sub Alessia Russo 56mins), Fran Kirby (sub Ella Toone 56mins), Lauren Hemp (sub Chloe Kelly 70mins). Subs not used: Hannah Hampton, Ellie Roebuck, Jess Carter, Demi Stokes, Nikita Parris, Beth England.  


Norway: Guro Pettersen, Tuva Hansen, Julie Blakstad, Maria Thorisdottir, Maren Mjelde, Karina Saevik (sub Guro Bergsvand 45mins), Ingrid Syrstad Engen, Vilde Boe Risa (sub Frida Maanum 59mins), Ada Hegerberg (sub Celin Bizet Idhusoy 75mins), Caroline Graham Hansen (sub Amalie Eikeland 75mins), Guro Reiten (sub Elisabeth Terland 84mins). Subs not used: Sunniva Skoglund, Aurora Mikalsen, Anja Sonstevold, Thea Bjelde, Synne Hansen, Anna Josendal, Sophie Haug.