BETH MEAD helped England live up to their Euros hype as they edged past Austria in front of a record crowd.
The single goal meant the Lionesses got off to the perfect start in front of 68,871 at Old Trafford, the biggest ever UEFA Women’s Euros attendance.
Despite the scoreline there’s no denying that Sarina Wiegman has got a fine-tune out of the squad, who are looking to get their mitts on a first major trophy.
The important win continued their redhot unbeaten run of 15 games since she took charge in September 2021.
She has also got Mead bossing it again as the forward outfoxed her Arsenal team-mate Manuela Zinsberger with an audacious 16th minute chip to put England top of Group A.
The Gunners star has hit a staggering 13 goals and 12 assists in the nine games she has played under the ex-Netherlands boss.
Their toughest test is still set to be against dark horses Norway next Monday, with former Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg back in the fray after a five-year exile from the side.
England have also cruised past the group stages of the last two major tournaments but yesterday’s win hopefully laid down a marker of what is to come.
You could barely see the players to begin with as the smoke from the opening ceremony settled on the pitch.
And there were little fireworks from England in the opening stages as they hoofed the ball about with no real end product due to nerves.
Not that you could blame them with the record pairs of eyes peering down on them.
Manchester City’s zippy winger Lauren Hemp, 21, was causing havoc in midfield early on.
Her twinkle toes were mowed down early on by Arsenal’s Carina Wenninger, setting up an inviting free-kick for the hosts.
Hemp stood over it and rifled it over to Ellen White who must have been licking her lips as it was in prime position for the no nonsense centre-forward – but it fired just beyond her.
The Lionesses still hadn’t quite settled and even the normally cool–as-a-cucumber Lucy Bronze, was easily dispossessed by Laura Feiersinger.
It was no surprise England’s all-time top-scorer, White, was responsible for the first shot on target with a bullet header, but Zinsberger mopped up the danger with ease.
England were building and they fired another warning shot, this time with Hemp blazed a header over the bar after being teed up by Bronze’s dipping and curling cross.
The opener had been coming, but boy was it a desperate scramble.
Fran Kirby picked out Mead who used ice-cool control with her chest to bring it down before outfoxing her onrushing Gunners teammate Zinsberger with a delicate chip.
Initially it looked as though it was hooked clear by Carina Wenninger but goal-line technology gave it and VAR, in use for the first-time ever at the Women’s Euros, concurred.
There was almost a quick-fire second goal from Hemp after a pretty passing sequence by Millie Bright and Bronze but Zinsberger did well to clear the danger.
Hemp pulled the strings again and pinged a cross onto White’s noggin to flash a bullet header inches away from the far post just before the break.
There was no messing about by Wiegman who hauled off Kirby, Mead and White for United fan Toone, Chloe Kelly on 63 minutes to find another spark.
But it was actually Austria who had the best chance in the second half.
Barbara Dunst pulled the trigger with a jaw-dropping long-range strike to sting the hands of Manchester United shot stopper Mary Earps.
VAR checked for a potential penalty as two Austria players went down in the box during a scramble to get a shot off – but nothing came from it.
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