Football News

‘Frustrating but lots to build on’ – Lionesses blank in final game before Women’s World Cup opener

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:16, 1 July 2023

England W concluded their preparations for the forthcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup with a goalless draw against Portugal W at Stadium MK this afternoon.

Sarina Wiegman’s side, the defending European champions, head Down Under missing a slew of players through injury notably skipper Leah Williamson and leading markswoman Beth Mead, but despite these issues, the Lionesses remain among the favourites but on today’s showing there’s still work to do.

Last time out England W saw an imperious 30-match unbeaten streak come to an end, and they also blanked in that outing against WWC co-hosts Australia, which puts this latest performance in some context with their opening game against Haiti W only a few weeks away.

“We are disappointed that we didn’t score a goal. I think we have seen a lot of things,” Wiegman told ITV Sport afterwards. “I think we were too slow in our possession game in the first half. We did a little better in the second half and in moments we played quicker and the tempo was higher. Although we did create lots of chances, shots doesn’t say everything. We should have put it in the back of the net. We all know that.”

Rachel Daly, who scored twice in a recent win over Italy W, led the line but was hooked off at half-time for Alessia Russo but the soon-to-be Arsenal forward couldn’t break the deadlock. “It was frustrating but there’s lots to build on and it was really important to get a game in and play in front of the fans once more,” Russo said.

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“We had a lot of chances. Me personally I should have finished as well. We’re finding new connections and it’s just about building those connections. There are so many talented forwards in this team. It has been a lot more competitive than I thought. Rach [Daly] and Beth [England] have both had great seasons as well. We get to train together which is mega for me and it’s nice to learn off them. They’re both older than me and have a lot of experience.”

Russo was given the nod to play as England W’s number nine in that aforementioned Australian loss. Manchester City W’s winger Lauren Hemp is expected to start on the lank flank with Lauren James probably doing enough to occupy the other wing. Overall the European champions produced 24 shots on goal with eight on target. They naturally dominated possession (66% to Portugal W’s 44%) but were unable to make their superior territorial dominance count.