England 4-0 Northern Ireland: Lionesses continue 100% start to Women’s World Cup qualifying

England 4-0 Northern Ireland: Lionesses continue 100% start to Women’s World Cup qualifying as Beth Mead ends visitors’ stubborn resistance and bags a second-half hat-trick in historic Wembley win

  • England had won their first two qualifiers of the campaign 8-0 and 10-0 
  • However, Sarina Wiegman’s side struggled to break down Northern Ireland
  • It took until 64 minutes for England to get on the scoresheet through Beth Mead
  • Beth England made it 2-0 before Mead completed her hat-trick on 78 minutes 
  • The victory was England women’s first at Wembley in front of 23,225 fans











Beth Mead’s quickfire second-half hat-trick helped England Women make history and seal a first ever win at Wembley last night.

Sarina Wiegman could hardly have wished for a better start to life as manager. Three wins from three, 22 goals scored and the team’s first-ever win at the home of football.

And it was down to two inspired second-half substitutions from the former Holland boss that ensured the Lionesses maintained their 100 per cent record to World Cup qualifying.

Beth Mead’s first international hat-trick did not tell the whole story against Northern Irelaand

England side found this a tougher test after 8-0 and 10-0 victories in their first two qualifiers

England side found this a tougher test after 8-0 and 10-0 victories in their first two qualifiers

Wiegman kept the same starting line-up that stuck 10 past Luxembourg last time out but after drawing a blank against Northern Ireland in the opening half, the 51-year-old called on Mead and Bethany England – and the pair delivered.

With her first touch of the game Mead broke the deadlock, sending a controlled volley past the visitors’ Jacqueline Burns on the swivel in the 64th minute.

Chelsea’s England got in on the act eight minutes later, tapping home a Lauren Hemp cross when unmarked at the back post.

With that the floodgates opened and Mead smashed home a second before passing the ball into an empty net for her treble and England’s fourth – much to the delight of her manager.

The England coaching team and the 23,255 fans would have been left wondering how the Lionesses weren’t ahead at the interval. Seventeen shots, 80 per cent possession, yet nothing to show for their dominance.

It’s no surprise that the team ranked 40 places higher than the visitors in the FIFA world rankings had the ascendancy, but their superiority deserved reward.

Leah Williamson continued to wear the captain's armband in Steph Houghton's absence

Leah Williamson continued to wear the captain’s armband in Steph Houghton’s absence

Beth Mead brilliantly hooked home from about 10 yards out to open the scoring on 64 minutes

Beth Mead brilliantly hooked home from about 10 yards out to open the scoring on 64 minutes

Faced with the challenge of trying to break down two banks of five, with Northern Ireland resorting to a line of six in defence at times, England, who netted 18 times in their last two matches, could not make the breakthrough in the opening period, somehow.

Credit must be given to the visitors’ ability to execute manager Kenny Shiels’ gameplan with resolute and disciplined defending. 

They were camped in their half with the onslaught persistent but never wavered from the task at hand.

Beth England doubled the hosts' advantage shortly afterwards as she bundled home

Beth England doubled the hosts’ advantage shortly afterwards as she bundled home

Mead had her eye in and scored her second in 10 minutes with an emphatically struck drive

Mead had her eye in and scored her second in 10 minutes with an emphatically struck drive

MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS FROM WEMBLEY 

ENGLAND (4-3-3): Earps 6; Daly 6 (Mead 64, 9), Bright 6, Greenwood 7 (Staniforth 80), Stokes 6 (Walsh 45, 6); Kirby 7, Williamson 7, Toone 6; Parris 7 (England 63, 8), White 6, Hemp 8.

Subs not used: MacIver, Hampton, Charles, Stanway, Scott, Russo, Carter

Goals: Mead 64, 74, 78, England 72

Yellow cards: None

Manager: Sarina Wiegman 8

NORTHERN IRELAND (5-3-2): Burns 5; McKenna 6, Nelson 6, McFadden 7, Burrows 5 (Watling 73, 6), Vance 6; Hamilton 6 (McGuinness 65, 5), McCarron 7, Furness 6 (McDaniel 74); Wade 6 (Beattie 81) Callaghan 6 (Wilson 81).

Subs not used: Flaherty, Clifford, McLaren, Caldwell, Rafferty, Andrews.

Yellow cards: Burrows

Manager: Dean Shiels 6

Referee: Ivana Martincic 6

Attendance: 23,255

 

Wiegman’s side needed patience but also creativity in attack to try to find the smallest of cracks in the Northern Ireland defence.

Wingers Hemp and Nikita Parris provided intelligent runs from outside to in with the former rattling the crossbar with a fierce left-footed strike inside the first 20 minutes.

Leah Williamson, captain in place of the injured Steph Houghton, could have had at least a hat-trick in the first half as she saw multiple headers go agonisingly close and a cultured effort sail over the bar.

The Arsenal forward then completed her treble to secure the team's first-ever Wembley win

The Arsenal forward then completed her treble to secure the team’s first-ever Wembley win

While Alex Greenwood, paired with Millie Bright in central defence, took matters into her own hands by launching a thunderous left-footed strike at goal from range, only for it to cannon off the woodwork.

A combination of bad luck, good goalkeeping, last-ditch blocks and poor accuracy meant Northern Ireland headed into the break level.

England made their dominance count, eventually.

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