Mead lob earns Lionesses opening Euro 2022 victory

The biggest crowd in the history of the Women's European Championships see England beat Austria 1-0 at Old Trafford

Thursday, 7th July — By Catherine Etoe

England fans euro 2022

Fans cheer England on to victory against Austria

ARSENAL forward Beth Mead could not stop smiling at Old Trafford on Wednesday after her neatly-taken goal against Austria got England off to a winning start at Euro 2022.

It had been a unique night for the women’s game in this country, with more than 68,000 fans rocking the Manchester United stadium as they noisily celebrated an opening win for the hosts.

Wearing the captain’s armband, Gunner Leah Williamson led England out to a raucous reception after an opening ceremony of flag-waving children, pumping tunes, flamethrowers and jets of red, white and blue smoke.

The party had started in the fan zone hours earlier and Mead whipped supporters into a frenzy 16 minutes into the game when she lobbed Austria keeper Manuela Zinsberger.

Cue noisy celebrations and, once a tense goalline check had been completed, an outbreak of Mexican waves amid the biggest crowd in the history of the competition.

Afterwards, 27-year-old Mead could not hide her delight at having played her part in the 1-0 victory – even if it meant beating Arsenal teammate Zinsberger to achieve it.

“I’m pretty happy,” she told the Tribune. “I scored a goal at my childhood club, someone I support, in front of a big crowd, in the first game of the Euros – you can’t get better than that!”

Mead had been coolness personified as she chested down the ball to beat Zinsberger, but the two players could be seen hugging and exchanging quips at full-time.

“She always told me in the qualifiers she wouldn’t let me score past her and we were having a little joke that I scored past her today,” explained Mead.

Women’s Super League golden glove winner Zinsberger may have been beaten by Mead’s canny lob, but the 26-year-old did not allow England to break her defences again.

Arsenal teammate Laura Wienroither also stood out for the visitors, Mead saying that she had earlier agreed to give the Austria defender her shirt at full-time.

“Laura asked me before the game if we could swap shirts,” Mead said. “I thought she was amazing for Austria today, put a big performance in for them.”

Austria might have even spoiled the party with a late leveller, Barbara Dunst and Julia Hickelsberger-Fuller forcing Manchester United keeper Mary Earps into two fine saves.

It was a hard-fought win for England and certainly no walkover. But they remain unbeaten in 15 matches under head coach Sarina Wiegman, who won the tournament in 2017 with the Netherlands.

Next up is a trip to Brighton to face a Norway side that includes a raft of WSL players among its talented roster, as well as the world class striker Ada Hegerberg.

Kick-off is 8pm with the match live on the BBC.

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