England vs USA – Football Match Report – 7th October 2022

European champions England cruised to a rare 2-1 victory over World Cup holders USA women’s national team in a thrilling friendly at Wembley Stadium in London on Friday .

In front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 77,000, the on-pitch entertainment lived up to the hype, especially in a thrilling first half that saw three goals. Lauren Hemp and a Georgia Stanway penalty gave England the goals they needed, either side of a Sophia Smith goal that briefly leveled the American level.

There was also controversy, when the United States were denied a second equalizer before half-time when the video assistant referee ruled it out for offside in the build-up.

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“They are an amazing team and they have shown once again that they are very good,” USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said of England afterwards. “If you give them some space, they have players who can make a difference.

“They have an amazing coach, who has done a really good job since she arrived here and I wouldn’t mind playing them again in the final.”

“It was an intense game, very competitive as we expected,” said England coach Sarina Wiegman. “We were both playing to score goals. We’re not winning a World Cup now – it’s great to have that moment in that environment to prepare for the World Cup next year.”

The preparations for the match had been dominated by the publication earlier in the week of a report by Sally Yates detailing systemic abuse and misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Players from both teams stood together before kick-off in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse, holding a banner that read “Protect the Players” and wearing teal armbands.

The American players had said the match was a welcome distraction after a grueling few days and once the whistle sounded the intensity on the pitch was far greater than that of a regular friendly. It was, after all, a rematch of the 2019 World Cup semi-final, won by the Americans, and a meeting between American and English teams who had respectively played 23 and 22 games without defeat.

It was also an opportunity for both teams to take stock of their preparations ahead of next year’s World Cup.

England, who had already fired a warning shot, had the home crowd jubilant after just 10 minutes. Beth Mead, winner of the Euro 2022 Golden Boot, was the creator, clearing on the right and sending a low cross. USA defender Alana Cook failed to intercept the ball, only slowing it down the path of Hemp who managed a simple finish from six yards out.

It was the first time the United States had fallen behind in a game since last year’s Olympics semi-final against Canada, which was also the last time the Americans were beaten. The deficit could also have been doubled soon, but this time Hemp’s shot was blocked in front of goal.

Smith, however, was beginning to make his presence felt on the other end. With Alex Morgan out due to injury, the Portland Thorns forward started in the center of the American forward line.

And she quickly showed the lethal touch in front of goal that has seen her score 14 times in 18 NWSL appearances this year. Lindsey Horan robbed Stanway as England tried to play from behind and the ball fell on Smith, who turned instantly at the edge of the box before firing into the bottom corner of the net to level the scores.

It didn’t take long for Stanway to atone for his mistake and continue a thrilling first half. Less than five minutes after the USA equalized, the referee was called in to examine a high boot from Hallie Mace, for the injured Emily Fox, over England’s Lucy Bronze just inside the box.

A penalty was duly awarded and Stanway made no mistake, sending USA keeper Alyssa Naeher the wrong way.

If the USWNT were unhappy with VAR’s involvement in this case, their frustration was multiplied minutes later. The visitors thought they had leveled the scores again after a glorious attacking move ended with Megan Rapinoe faking a cross from Smith into the path of Trinity Rodman, who finished at the far post. A lengthy VAR review, however, ruled Smith was offside in the build-up by the narrowest of margins despite replays failing to offer a clear view.

The drama continued early in the second half, with Bronze and Smith poised to add to the scoreline at either end.

With less than 10 minutes remaining, the referee pointed the spot for a United States penalty, but replays showed the ball had clearly hit Hemp’s back and not his arm and the call was quickly cancelled.

Still looking for an equalizer, Andonovski turned to 17-year-old high schooler Alyssa Thompson, who became the USWNT’s youngest debutant since 2016.

But there was to be no further development as England secured only their fifth victory in 19 meetings with the four-time World Cup winners.

Wiegman, however, insists her side will not get carried away by rumors that England have now overtaken the United States as the best in women’s football.

“You were the best team in the world when you won the World Cup, we weren’t,” she said. “It’s so close – there are so many good countries and it’s tight.

“We have to keep doing it and working hard and delivering on our plans. You have to have a bit of luck when you go to a World Cup – you have to have everyone fit and available. You’ve seen our team grow a lot and it’s nice to see, but we’re removing some things that we really need to improve.”

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