England Women secured their spot in the semi-final of Euro 2022 thanks to a 2-1 win over pre-tournament favourites Spain Women in a thrilling match at the Amex.
It was Sarina Wiegman’s 18th game as manager since replacement Phil Neville in September (via a Hege Riise interim spell) and perhaps her biggest result so far. Before the game, a lot of signs were pointing towards an England win with the Lionesses in fine form and Spain struggling to hit the heights many expected of them pre-tournament.
But Spain were excellent for large parts of the game and deservedly took the lead in the 54th minute through Esther Gonzalez as La Roja exploited England’s left-hand side. As the clock ticked down, it looked as though Spain would be advancing to the semi-finals but Ella Toone equalised for England with six minutes left, taking the game to extra-time.
And, buoyed by the late goal, England went on to secure a 2-1 win thanks to Georgia Stanway’s rocket strike – setting up a semi-final against one of Sweden or Belgium. Not just a match winner, Stanway’s goal was also the 100th England have scored in Wiegman’s 10-month tenure.
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Averaging 5.5 goals per game, attack has definitely been the star of the show for Wiegman in England, which is understandable given the talent the Dutchwoman has on her hands. But before we break down the attack and the 100 goals, a word on Wiegman’s defence too, with England conceding just four times in 18 matches and never more than once in a game.
Anyway, about that attack.
Spread across 18 matches, England’s 100 goals under Wiegman have also been spread across 18 different players, not including the five opposition players that put the ball into their own net. Remarkably, just four of the 100 goals came from the penalty spot, with a further seven from corners and two via indirect free-kick situations.
If we had to push ourselves for a negative about Wiegman’s side it’s that they are often slow starters, and it shows with the goals, as just 38% of their strikes in the past 10 months have come before half-time. But fortunately they know how to put the pressure on and really press an opponent into submission, with 61 goals in the second half of their matches plus one extra-time winner.
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Toone’s equaliser in the 84th minute was also the 29th goal England have scored in the final 15 minutes of normal time, their favourite 15-minute period under Wiegman. Their least favourite, for contrast, is between the 16th and 30th minute when they have managed just 10.
There have also been 11 goals from outside the area including Stanway’s winner against Spain, and while she is known for letting fly (and scoring) from range it’s actually Toone who has the most goals outside the box for England under Wiegman with four. Ellen White is the only other player with more than one (two).
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A lot has been said about White and her place as England’s starting No.9, picked ahead of the likes of Alessia Russo and Bethany England despite seeming to struggle in the WSL last season and in certain matches for the Lionesses. But she has still managed to score 13 goals for England under Wiegman, becoming the Lionesses’ all-time top goalscorer during that time.
However, she isn’t Wiegman’s top scorer for England. That honour belongs to the fantastic Beth Mead, who has scored an incredible 19 times for England in 18 matches under Wiegman, including three hat-tricks and one four-goal haul. Mead also scored in all three of England’s Euro 2022 group stage games but missed out on the opportunity to become the first ever women to score in four consecutive European Championship matches, brought off by Wiegman as she looked to inspire a comeback against Spain.
England have now scored 100 goals in the Sarina Wiegman era:
89 inside the box
11 outside the box
7 from corners
5 own goals
2 from indirect free-kicks
38 in the first half
61 in the second half
1 in extra-time
— Harry Edwards (@harryedwards16) July 20, 2022
Mead is also joint-top for most assists in the Wiegman era with 12, being the only player to hit 30+ goal involvements. Let’s not forget that this is a player who was left out of Riise’s Team GB side for the Tokyo Olympics and seemingly had to fight for her place in Wiegman’s England. She’s joined on 12 assists by the fabulous Lauren Hemp, the future of the England team with 17 players in total setting up a teammate.
So a milestone has been hit, but England will want to make sure it’s not in vain as they seek to win their first ever major trophy. Just two more wins will do it…