Women's Team

City quintet help England to emphatic Euros win

Five City stars helped England maintain their 100% record at Euro 2022 with a 5-0 win over Northern Ireland, but Julie Blakstad’s tournament is over after Norway were beaten by Austria.

The Lionesses, who had already qualified for the knockout stages after an emphatic 8-0 win over the Norwegians in their previous outing, turned on the style in front of a 30,785-strong crowd at St. Mary’s Stadium.

Sarina Wiegman, who was absent from the sidelines after receiving a positive COVID-19 test, named an unchanged side from Monday’s victory, meaning Keira Walsh, Lauren Hemp and Ellen White all started, while Alex Greenwood and Chloe Kelly were both introduced from the bench.

The hosts were on top from the get-go, with former City midfielder Georgia Stanway seeing claims of an early penalty ruled out after a VAR review spotted a handball from Beth Mead in the build-up.

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Ten minutes later Mead’s acrobatic volley from a Leah Williamson knockdown was blocked at the last by Julie Nelson, before White was inches from equalling Wayne Rooney’s record as England’s all-time top scorer.

The forward was released in behind by ex-City teammate Lucy Bronze, but while her effort across goal evaded the onrushing Jackie Burns, it trickled agonisingly wide of the far post.

The chances kept on coming for England, under the watchful eye of assistant Arjan Veurink, with Hemp and Fran Kirby combining well to present Stanway with a chance, but her powerful effort was cleared off the line by Rebecca Holloway.

However, the deadlock was broken moments later when Kirby curled home a sumptuous effort from the edge of the Northern Ireland box after Hemp’s initial shot had been blocked.

Despite taking almost 40 minutes to grab the opener, number two followed on the stroke of half-time when Mead cleverly switched the ball onto her left foot inside the area and fired through a crowd of bodies into the bottom corner.

Greenwood would be introduced at the break for Millie Bright, but the half-time whistle would also represent the end of White’s evening, with the forward being rested ahead of the knockout stages.

Her replacement Alessia Russo would grab a quickfire brace soon after the restart though, heading home Mead’s looping cross inside two minutes before firing home after spinning expertly away from the Northern Ireland defence soon after.

Kelly would enter the fray for the final half hour, replacing City teammate Lauren Hemp, and a fifth would follow for England in unfortunate circumstances with 15 to play when an inviting ball into the box was inadvertently cleared into the Northern Ireland net by Kelsie Burrows.

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It was just rewards for the hosts, who have now grabbed an astonishing fourteen goals en route to topping their group.

They will face either Spain or Denmark in the quarter-finals, depending on the outcome of their final group game on Saturday evening.

However, it was less positive news for Blakstad, who started for Norway as they were knocked out at the Group Stages following a 1-0 defeat to Austria.

The Norwegians needed to claim all three points to qualify for the last eight, but Nicole Billa’s glancing header just after the half hour was enough to see their opponents progress.

Blakstad, who started each of her nation’s matches at Euro 2022, featured for 82 minutes at Brighton’s Amex Stadium before being replaced by Sophie Haug.

They finish third in Group A after two defeats and one victory in their three matches.

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