Women's Team

Walsh, Hemp and Greenwood help Lionesses seal ticket to the 2023 World Cup finals

City trio Alex Greenwood, Kiera Walsh and Lauren Hemp all started with Ellie Roebuck, Demi Stokes and Sandy MacIver unused subs as England secured their place at the 2023 World Cup finals with a dominant 2-0 victory away to Austria.

It was the Lionesses’ first competitive appearance since their memorable EURO 2022 triumph earlier this summer where, ironically, their campaign had begun with a victory over Austria.

And Sarina Wiegman’s side picked up from where they left off in the summer as goals in either half from Hayley Russo and substitute Nikita Parris sealed their ticket to next year’s showpiece in Australia and New Zealand.

It continued an emphatic Group D qualifying campaign by England, making it nine wins from nine, 70 goals scored and none conceded.

Wiegman’s side got off to the perfect start in Wiener Neustadt as Russo followed up her prolific form from the EUROS by firing the Lionesses into a seventh minute lead.

City duo Hemp and Greenwood were instrumental in the build up to the goal with Hemp latching onto Greenwood’s cross and heading the ball invitingly towards Russo.

The United striker needed no second invitation to despatch an instinctive left-foot finish into the bottom right corner.

PASS MASTER: Kiera Walsh in the thick of the action
PASS MASTER: Kiera Walsh in the thick of the action

Russo then had a fine opportunity to double her tally after more fine work on the flank from Hemp on nine minutes but her header on goal was a tame affair.

There was a scare for England almost immediately after the restart. Goalkeeper Mary Earps was too casual in controlling a pass back from skipper Leah Williamson on her goal line.

Austria’s Julia Hickelsberger powered in to close her down and got a nick on the ball, but fortunately for the England keeper the rebound went inches wide of the right hand upright.

At the other end only the outstretched foot of Austrian keeper Manuela Zinsberger prevented a snapshot from Georgia Stanway finding its way into the net as Wiegman’s side sought to up the tempo.

The Lionesses though were then indebted to a stunning save from Mary Earps on the hour as she dived to palm away a goal bound shot from Laura Feiersinger’s 20-yard shot.

But England’s pressure was inexorable and gained just rewards on 70 minutes when substitute Nikita Parris despatched a superbly executed chip from Stanway’s assist to double the advantage and seal the win.

With qualification signed and sealed, the Lionesses round off their Group D campaign on Tuesday night when they play host to Luxembourg at a sold out Britannia Stadium.