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Beth gives England opening victory

England 1 (Mead 16)

Austria 0

att: 68,871; at Old Trafford

England's Euro 2022 campaign got off to a winning start as a first half strike from Beth Mead gave them a narrow victory over Austria in their opening group game.


It was not the fluent of performances from England and needed two good second half saves from Mary Earps to seal the win, but there was enough to be satisfied overall with the result against resolute opponents who reached the semi finals last time around.


Nerves were understandably evident early on amongst the England players and Austria pushed forward in an attempt to capitalise on this, but England were able to overcome this phase and began to threaten at the other end.


Ellen White was unable to direct a header on target from an awkward height and Zinsberger gathered comfortably, then Lauren Hemp headed over after Lucy Bronze had driven a cross into the area.


England were to take the lead on sixteen minutes though; Fran Kirby chipped a pass over the Austrian defence for Beth Mead to control and dink the ball over Zinsberger and despite a valiant effort to hook the ball clear from Carina Wenninger, it had just crossed the line.


It could well have been two as Hemp was released on the left by Fran Kirby and her cross picked out White in front of goal but she headed wide from eight yards out.


There was a worrying moment for England just before half time as Nicole Billa sent in a dangerous cross but Millie Bright was on hand to head away under pressure from Sarah Zadrazil.


England hit back and once again could have doubled their lead as the game went into injury time. Not for the first time, Austria were caught when playing out from the back, White winning the ball back and Kirby set up Hemp who took an extra touch and Zinsberger was out swiftly to deny her with a fine point blank save.


Austria tried to start the second half on the front foot, winning an early corner, but the first effort once again went to England, a shot by Kirby saved at her near post by Zinsberger.


Katharina Naschenweng shot well wide from an angle at the other end and Georgia Stanway flashed an effort just past the post for England, but Austria were now cutting off the supply to the wide players and lessening the threat that had come from them.


England made a triple substitution just after the hour but neither team was able to enjoy a spell of possession at this stage. Chloe Kelly dragged a shot wide following a shrewd pass from Keira Walsh but they were now struggling to create anything clear cut.


Austria were to come very close to levelling the scores though as Barbara Dunst cut in from the left and unleashed a powerful shot from 20 yards which was arrowing towards the far corner but Mary Earps pulled off an excellent diving save at full stretch to palm the ball away.


Hemp drilled a long range shot straight at Zinsberger, who held on at the second attempt, but Earps needed to make another important save low down to her left to gather a shot by Julia Hickelsberger-Fuller from the edge of the area as Austria tried to push forward for an equaliser late on.


This made it a tense last few minutes but England managed to safely negotiate injury time with no further problems and their tournament is off and running with a victory.


England: Mary Earps, Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly, Keira Walsh, Millie Bright, Beth Mead (sub Chloe Kelly 63mins), Leah Williamson, Ellen White (sub Alessia Russo 63mins), Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp, Fran Kirby (sub Ella Toone 63mins). Subs not used: Hannah Hampton, Ellie Roebuck, Alex Greenwood, Jess Carter, Demi Stokes, Jill Scott, Nikita Parris, Beth England, Lotte Wubben-Moy.


Austria: Manuela Zinsberger, Katharina Naschenweng (sub Julia Hickelsberger-Fuller 58mins), Carina Wenninger, Barbara Dunst, Sarah Zadrazil, Laura Feiersinger (sub Marie Hobinger 86mins), Viktoria Schnaderbeck (sub Marina Georgieva 81mins), Laura Wienroither, Nicole Billa, Sarah Puntigam, Verena Hanshaw. Subs not used: Isabella Kresche, Jasmin Pal, Celina Degen, Annabel Schasching, Katharina Schiechtl, Virginia Kirchberger, Jasmin Eder, Lisa Makas, Stefanie Enzinger.