Beth Mead's goal for the hosts gave a competition-record crowd a joyous night at Old Trafford.
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A UEFA Women's EURO record crowd of 68,871 partied at Old Trafford as Beth Mead's first-half chip got hosts England off to a winning start against Austria in Group A.
16' Mead chips England in front
45' Zinsberger denies Hemp
78' Earps saves from Dunst
Match in brief: Old Trafford party
After a pre-match mixture of fireworks and driving rain, the initial atmosphere was understandably frenzied and perhaps contributed to a few early nerves from the hosts. Eventually, though, England started to settle and took command with full-backs Lucy Bronze and Rachel Daly pushing forward, allowing Beth Mead and Lauren Hemp to step inside close to Ellen White.
It was Mead who made the 16th-minute breakthrough, chesting down Fran Kirby's astute pass and chipping over Manuela Zinsberger. Carina Wenninger came close to hooking away before the ball crossed the line, but the goal was confirmed by the first-ever Women's EURO VAR check. England did not let up, Bronze and Mead especially dominant on the right, while White – dominant in the air – headed a Hemp centre just wide.
Austria were clinging on but did go close before the break through Verena Hanshaw, though there was still time for England to threaten again before the interval. There was no let-up in the second half, Austria often having to defend deep rather than push for an equaliser.
With 12 minutes left England goalkeeper Mary Earps was called into action, diving to tip away a curling Barbara Dunst shot. She was also stretched by a Julia Hickelsberger-Füller effort, but the satisfied nod of England coach Sarina Wiegman on the final whistle said it all.
Visa Player of the Match: Georgia Stanway (England)
"Excellent positioning in attack and very good defensive organisation."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Lynsey Hooper, England reporter
While I think England did what was asked of them and got off to a winning start, the performance has arguably provoked more questions than answers. With arguably tougher opposition next in Norway, England will be disappointed they weren’t more ruthless, especially after a dominant first-half performance.
Austria nullified the threat from the wings after the restart and Wiegman will know her team need to find more ways to punish sides when they are on top. Three points will be celebrated as they should, but to live up to the billing of tournament favourites, more is needed. Indeed without goalkeeper Earps the result could have heaped early scrutiny on the hosts.
Joanna Kozak, Austria reporter
Austria surprised everyone with a very bold, attacking start to the match and exuded confidence. However, they failed to use this to their advantage and conceding early knocked them off course. Austria struggled to create chances thereafter, but did at least display more than enough courage for Irene Fuhrmann's team to look forward to facing Northern Ireland on Monday with hope and optimism.
Sarina Wiegman, England coach: "Incredible – no more words! We know where we have come from and to play in front of 70,000 people at Old Trafford making lots of noise, standing behind us, it’s really incredible. I think we were a little rushed in the final third. We did create lots of chances but the final touch or choice, we can do that better. But the most important thing is we scored one and kept a clean sheet to get the three points."
Irene Fuhrmann, Austria coach: "I am very proud of our performance and the way we played. But at the end of the day we are leaving with zero points and that is a big disappointment. Especially in the second half we showed a good reaction offensively, we showed courage and created a few chances but of course England dominated and deserved the win."
Georgia Stanway, Visa Player of the Match: "It was unbelievable, the atmosphere speaks for itself the number of people wo turned up was amazing. The relief at the final whistle … we got the result and that’s what matters."
Beth Mead, England goalscorer: "It's beyond words. What an amazing night. It's great to start the tournament with a win and I'm really happy to get a goal for my team."
- The crowd was more than 50% bigger than the previous competition record of 41,301, for the 2013 final in Solna.
- Mead has increased her England record one-season goal tally to 15.
- Since the Women's EURO group stage was introduced in 1997, the hosts have never lost their opener.
- England remain unbeaten in 15 games under Wiegman, 13 of them wins, with 85 scored and only three conceded.
- Wiegman also oversaw a 1-0 win for hosts Netherlands in the opening game of the 2017 finals (against Norway); they went on to lift the trophy.
England: Earps; Bronze, Bright, Williamson, Daly; Stanway, Walsh; Mead (Kelly 64), Kirby (Toone 63), Hemp; White (Russo 64)
Austria: Zinsberger; Wienroither, Wenninger, Schnaderbeck (Georgieva 77), Hanshaw; Puntigam; Dunst, Zadrazil, Feiersinger (Höbinger 87), Naschenweng (Hickelsberger-Füller 59); Billa