England sent a royal statement of their Euro 2022 credentials by defeating reigning champions the Netherlands 5-1 in Leeds.
In front of 19,000 fans at a raucous Elland Road, the Lionesses found themselves in a rare situation going after Sarina Weigman, when Lieke Martens headed the Dutch forward from a corner midway through the opening period.
But Lucy Bronze’s cross brought England level before half time, before a dramatic start to the second half.
In the space of a minute, Sherida Spitse missed a penalty for the Dutch after Alex Greenwood brought down substitute Danielle van de Donk, before substitute Beth Mead scored a cross from the impressive Lauren Hemp, who came to life later. in the middle.
Hemp set up Ella Toone, who curled a third, before the Manchester City winger scored from close range for the Lionesses’ fourth. Mead took advantage of the more questionable Dutch defense by twisting and turning in the box, before adding a fifth.
With star forward Ellen White out with coronavirus, much of the attacking focus was on whether Hemp could star as the Lionesses’ main influence up front, and it was last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year who showed the higher intention in the early stages.
Hemp headed in a wide Fran Kirby cross in the opening exchanges of the game, before nearly winning an odd goal when she closed in on Dutch keeper Sari van Veenendaal’s clearance, but the rebounded clearance bounced wide.
England match ratings
- England: Earps 7; Bronze 7, Brilliant 6, Greenwood 5, Daly 6; Williamson (c) 7, Walsh 6; Kelly 6, Kirby 7, Hemp 9; England 6
- Substitutes: Mead 8 (for Kelly, h/w), Stanway 6 (for Greenwood 63), Toone 7 (for Kirby 63), Russo 6 (for England 63), Carter 6 (for Daly 75), Parris n/a ( for hemp 81)
- Unused Subs: Stokes, Hampton, Wubben-Moy, Scott, Roebuck
- Player of the Match: Lauren Hemp (England)
- Attendance: 19,365
At the other end, Lionesses goalkeeper Mary Earps made a great save from close range to deny the pass to Lineth Beerensteyn, who came at the end of Jill Roord’s deflected effort and turned to fire on goal.
And it wasn’t long before the reigning European champions took the lead in what was a promising run for the Dutch. Roord’s corner found Martens at the near post, with Barcelona’s soon-to-join PSG star player deftly outplaying Keira Walsh on the ball.
One nearly turned into two when Beerensteyn ran towards goal, but Rachel Daly, playing her 50th cap for her hometown, ran back to step in and clear.
The Lionesses managed to set the trend and the promising Kirby won a free kick on the edge of the box after a play and a good turn, but Van Veenendaal held Alex Greenwood’s set piece well.
And the Lionesses found themselves level just 10 minutes before half-time, a poor touch from Jackie Groenen allowing Kirby to drive home and the ball was recycled to Bronze from the right. Barcelona’s new right-back seemed to miss her cross, but ended up flying into Van Veenendaal’s top corner.
It was a much-needed boost for the Lionesses before the break, and Wiegman’s side came out strong at the interval.
Hemp dropped down the left and her deflected shot found Mead at the far post, but the Arsenal winger’s touch let her down.
But it was another change at halftime that put the Netherlands back in front. Van de Donk burst clear down the right and Greenwood was caught on the wrong side by the former Arsenal man. VAR took its time awarding the penalty, but it was all in vain as Spitse took his penalty wide.
In a dramatic turn, England surged to the other end and took the lead, with Walsh playing Hemp down the left and crossing for Mead, who made no mistake that time at the back post.
Suddenly Elland Road was rebounding and Hemp was pulling the strings for the Lionesses. She set Kirby up in the Dutch half, but the returning attacker took too long to pull the trigger in the box and a good chance went to the hosts.
The Netherlands brought in Super League Women’s record goalscorer Vivianne Miedema from the bench on the hour of play to give her more attacking impetus, but it was England who remained on top.
Hemp and Daly’s snaps were relatively easy work for Van Veenendaal, who had to save Mead well at the far post after another excellent delivery from England’s No. 11.
Hemp suddenly got the goal and assist he deserved. First, he helped Toone, who scored his 11th goal in 14 international games, though questions have to be asked about Van Veenendaal, who let the ball bounce past her.
England went for fourth right away. Toone hit the post off a cross from Bronze, but the Netherlands couldn’t clear their lines, leaving Hemp with a close-range finisher.
And with the clock ticking down to 90, the Lionesses weren’t done yet, as Mead scored a fine solo goal after Russo saw a close-range attempt blocked.
It may have been more for the Lionesses, as Toone saw an even later effort saved at the far post and Russo hit the crossbar on the last kick of the game, but full time brought a cheery ‘Sweet Caroline’ at Elland Road, with the belief that soccer could come home metaphorically, as well as literally, this summer.
Analysis: No hemp, no party: England need her on the ball
Sky Sports football journalist Sam Blitz at Elland Road:
If it wasn’t clear before, it is now. Lauren Hemp is England’s best player at the European Championships and her form will dictate how well the Lionesses do on her home soil.
This 5-1 win over the Netherlands shows exactly why Weigman needs to make the best of it. In the first half, Hemp barely got involved in the game after the first five minutes and England ran out of ideas to advance.
But the second half was a hemp master class. Last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year drove past opponents, set up clever and intricate passes to his teammates, and finished with a goal and two assists.
Of course, Lionesses have other talents at their disposal. Millie Bright is key at the back, Leah Williamson dictates matters from midfield, with Beth Mead and Ellen White also tasked with contributing up front.
But Mead seems to unlock all of these players – no other player has the clout that she does.
Legendary England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley wore a T-shirt that read “Lauren Hemp is my spirit animal” on Elland Road; she will also carry the spirit of the nation.
England wrap up their preparations for Euro 2022 when they visit Switzerland on Thursday for their last friendly before the tournament kicks off on July 6. That night, the Lionesses will host Austria at Old Trafford.
Follow Euro 2022 through Sky Sports
Stay up to date with the latest from Euro 2022 via Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Coverage will be provided by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, along with Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. For their part, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will give analysis throughout the tournament.
They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
Pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 mobile presentation bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where the matches are played.
In addition, Sky Sports’ Essential Football Podcast will change its name for the tournament to Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast from June 21. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews, as well as robust tournament programming.
Eurocopa 2022: The groups…
Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland
B Group: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland
Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland
Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland
Eurocopa 2022: The calendar…
Wednesday July 6
Group A: England v Austria – kick-off 8pm, Old Trafford
Thursday July 7
Group A: Norway vs Northern Ireland – kick-off 8pm, St Mary’s
friday july 8
Group B: Spain vs Finland – kick-off 5pm, MK Stadium
Group B: Germany vs Denmark – kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
saturday july 9
Group C: Portugal vs Switzerland – kick-off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Group C: Netherlands vs Sweden – kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
sunday july 10
Group D: Belgium vs Iceland – kick-off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Italy – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
monday july 11
Group A: Austria vs Northern Ireland – kick-off 5pm, St Mary’s
Group A: England v Norway – kick-off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
tuesday july 12
Group B: Denmark vs Finland – kick-off 5pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Germany vs Spain – kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Wednesday July 13
Group C: Sweden vs Switzerland – kick-off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Netherlands v Portugal – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Thursday July 14
Group D: Italy vs Iceland – kick-off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Belgium – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
friday july 15
Group A: Northern Ireland v England – kick-off 8pm, St Mary’s
Group A: Austria vs Norway – kick-off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
saturday july 16
Group B: Finland vs Germany – kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Denmark vs Spain – kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
sunday july 17
Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands – kick-off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Sweden vs Portugal – kick-off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
monday july 18
Group D: Iceland vs France – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Group D: Italy vs Belgium – kick-off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Wednesday July 20
Quarterfinals 1: Winners Group A vs. Runners-up Group B – 8:00pm kick-off, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Thursday July 21
Quarterfinals 2: Winners of Group B vs. Group A runners-up – 8:00pm kick-off, London Community Stadium
friday july 22
Quarter Final 3: Group C Winners v Group D Runners-up – kick-off 8:00pm, Leigh Sports Village
Quarterfinals 4: Winners Group D vs. Runners-up Group C – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
tuesday july 26
Semi-Final 1: Quarter-Final Winners 1 v Quarter-Final Winners 3 – kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-Final 2: Quarter-Final Winners 2 v Quarter-Final Winners 4 – kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
sunday july 31
Semi-final winners 1 v Semi-final winners 2 – kick-off 5pm, Wembley