Group A winners England rewrote the record books as debutants Northern Ireland bowed out.
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More than 30,000 fans in Southampton were in party mood as UEFA Women's EURO 2022 hosts England, already confirmed as Group A winners, secured another big win against eliminated debutants Northern Ireland.
41' Kirby strikes from distance
45' Mead makes it two
48' Sub Russo heads in
53' Russo scores again
76' Own goal makes it five for England
Match in brief: England break more records
England stuck with the same XI that began the wins against Austria and Norway, despite the group being clinched already and a quarter-final looming in five days. With both UK rivals well represented in the Southampton stands, there was a festive atmosphere as the hosts – coached by assistant Arjan Veurink in the absence of Sarina Wiegman through illness – dominated from the off.
Northern Ireland were holding out well, Ellen White slipping the ball past the post, Lucy Bronze heading just wide and Georgia Stanway having an effort blocked on the line by Rebecca Holloway before Fran Kirby broke the deadlock as she pounced on a loose ball outside the box and sent in a curling shot. Soon after, Beth Mead bolstered her Top Scorer ambitions with a deflected drive, her fifth of the finals and a new group stage high.
The hosts made three half-time changes and one of the new faces scored within three minutes, Alessia Russo heading in a Mead cross. Russo soon doubled her haul with a fine turn and shot following a pass from fellow substitute Ella Toone.
Mead made the fifth, her cross headed into her own net by Northern Ireland substitute Kelsie Burrows. With a record number of goals scored in a Women's EURO group, and only the second team to go through a section without conceding, England have delighted the well over 100,000 fans that have attended their games so far. Northern Ireland bow out without a point, but their feat of qualifying remains one of the competition's most remarkable.
Player of the Match: Alessia Russo (England)
"Made an immediate impact in the game, scored twice. and linked up the attack."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Samantha Miller, Northern Ireland reporter
Northern Ireland made England have to think of solutions to score after containing them for the first 40 minutes or so. Despite the defeat and the scoreline, coach Kenny Shiels will be pleased with that.
Lynsey Hooper, England reporter
The Lionesses carried their late first-half momentum beyond the break. Substitute Russo almost instantly scored, meeting Mead's cross with an angled header and adding a second soon after. Toone, whose pass set up Russo's second, certainly provided a spark and she has given Wiegman more selection dilemmas ahead of the quarter-finals.
Arjan Veurink, England assistant coach: "I think [Northern Ireland] did pretty well to be fair to them. We struggled to find the right spaces, particularly in the first part of the first half. But after that we did really well and created some good chances. In these games the spaces will come, especially when you play against a team in a low block. At the end the goals were coming as well so it was great."
Fran Kirby, England forward: "I want to be scoring goals but feel like I've been getting myself in to positions and it hasn't quite come off yet, so I was really happy to get the goal and get the ball rolling. It's always difficult getting the first goal in these types of games, but I think when we do we really punish teams. [Wiegman] has been online with us virtually and communicating. But a lot of the work was done leading in to the game."
Alessio Russo, Visa Player of the Match: "Whenever I get minutes for England I just want to come on and do the best I can. I'm delighted to get the three points and it was great to be involved from half-time. It's great to give the fans something to celebrate. We love to be ruthless, we love to score goals and hopefully more of that to come. It's maybe something we've lacked in the past, but this tournament we're really growing."
Kenny Shiels, Northern Ireland coach: "I don't think anyone can argue that Northern Ireland have the best supporters in the world. A small country out-singing 30,000 English people. It would be a massive failure if England don't win this tournament. Everybody else should just go home."
Marissa Callaghan, Northern Ireland captain: "For the players, the legacy is that we believed we could compete in this tournament. It was a far cry for us from four or five years ago: we never thought we would make it and we played really well at times against top sides and players. We have to believe that we can challenge the top sides."
- Mead became the first player to score five goals in a single Women's EURO group and is one off the overall record for a tournament of six set by Inka Grings in 2009.
- Kirby's opener was England's 50th Women's EURO finals goal, making them the fourth nation to reach that mark after Germany, Sweden and Norway.
- England ended the group on 14 goals, beating the previous record of 11 set by Germany in 2005.
- England are only the second team to go through a Women's EURO group without conceding after Germany in 2005.
- England finished the group stage on maximum points for the second tournament running: the only other nation to do so multiple times is Germany (2001, 2005 and 2009).
- The crowd of 30,785 was the third biggest in Women's EURO history, with three of the top five set at England games during these finals.
Northern Ireland: Burns; McKenna, Nelson (Hutton 87), McFadden, Vance; Rafferty (Burrows 66), Callaghan (Wilson 87), Furness (Caldwell 80), Holloway (Magee 66); Wade, K. McGuinness
England: Earps; Bronze (Carter 74), Bright (Greenwood 46), Williamson, Daly; Stanway (Toone 46), Walsh; Mead, Kirby, Hemp (Kelly 60); White (Russo 46)
England take on the Group B runners-up (Denmark or Spain) in Brighton & Hove on Wednesday in the first quarter-final. Northern Ireland return to action in September with their last FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers in Luxembourg and Latvia, though they cannot reach next year's finals as England and Austria, coincidentally, are already out of reach in their group.