England v Netherlands – UEFA Women’s Nations League – Wembley Stadium – Report
England 3-2 Netherlands
Substitute Ella Toone’s sensational stoppage-time winner at the end of the match saw England overturn an early two-goal deficit to defeat the Netherlands 3-2 in their crucial UEFA Women’s Nations League, Group A1 tie at Wembley – keeping Team GB’s hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games still very much alive.
The Lionesses, reigning European champions and World Cup runners-up, were 2-0 down just after the half-hour mark with Juventus striker Lineth Beerensteyn netting both Dutch goals after capitalising on English defensive errors.
Following an energetic start by the Lionesses, Chloe Kelly nodded wide of the target twice before Lauren Hemp – winning her fiftieth England cap on the night – forced Daphne van Domselaar into a fingertip save early on. However, The home team could not capitalise on their initial momentum, with Victoria Pelova playing in Beerensteyn to outpace Lucy Bronze and Jess Carter before clinically striking the ball beyond Mary Earps to put the Dutch 1-0 up after only twelve minutes.
Jill Roord clipped the bar just moments later and ten minutes before half-time, Beerensteyn made it 2-0 when her low effort brushed off Earps’ glove before trickling into the net.
It was a cruel moment for the Manchester United stopper – such a huge part of the Lionesses’ success over the past few seasons and who, in the absence of Millie Bright, was captaining her country for the first time.
After Sarina Wiegman introduced Arsenal’s Beth Mead in place of Kelly just after the break for her first England appearance in over a year following the ACL injury that had so tragically denied her a place in the World Cup squad for Australia, the way was paved for a quickfire double when Georgia Stanway nodded home Lauren James’ curling cross in the fifty-ninth minute and it was the outstanding James once again who teed up Hemp just a minute later to side foot the ball past van Domselaar from the edge of the area to make it 2-2.
With England knowing that nothing less than a win would do to keep Team GB in contention to qualify for the Olympics, despite late pressure and the clock running down, it was beginning to look as if their efforts were destined to ultimately end in disappointment – but as many have learned to their cost – most especially since coach Wiegman took charge – it is only the brave or foolhardy who dare to write off the Lionesses, who when the chips are down, have so often found a way to win.
And so it proved to be, when in the first minute of stoppage time and following her late run into the area, Toone clinically fired James’s pass-through van Domselaar’s legs to clinch a 3-2 victory and set up an ‘all or nothing’ must-win game against Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.
England will qualify for the Nations League Finals if they beat the Scots and the Netherlands fail to win at home against Belgium. The English can also go through if the Netherlands emerge victorious, but they would need to win by four more goals than the Dutch margin of victory.
Sarina Wiegman spoke to ITV following the game: “I feel a bit strange. I’m really happy with the win. I think coming back from 2-0 down and how we showed up in the second half, I think that was so well done. I think we started the first half really well, we were really dominating, then they came with one counterattack – we said at half-time, we’re not playing bad just keep going, because they are struggling too.
“As I said I don’t think we played poor. We needed to do something different, so Beth Mead came in. We got some new energy and we needed that too. Ella scores a lot of important goals. When she comes in, she’s ready to go, and that’s really good.
“First of all, we need to win [against Scotland] but we’re dependent on the other score. If we win and the Netherlands drop points, then we’re in – otherwise we need to win something like 5-0.”
England skipper Mary Earps also spoke to ITV after the game: “The girls were unbelievable. To come back like that, unbelievable! The subs came on and impacted the game. I’m just sorry that my performance has cost the team tonight. That [the second goal] will haunt me for a long time. I’ve really let the team down today.
“I’m really gutted, really, really gutted. It could’ve been a really special night at Wembley. The team were unbelievable. The girls were phenomenal. I’m a competitor and when it isn’t good enough, it isn’t good enough. I can only apologise to my teammates.”
England: Earps (Capt) Bronze, Carter (Morgan 63’) Greenwood, Charles (Daly 86’) Stanway (Toone 68’) Walsh, Kelly (Mead 45’) Kirby (Russo 68’) James, Hemp Subs not used: Hampton, Wubben-Moy, Zelem, Clinton, Le Tissier, Keating, Turner
Netherlands: Van Domselaar, Dijkstra, Janssen (Casparij 73′) Spitse (Van Dongen 70’) Pelova (Jansen 64′) Groenen (Egurrola 45’) Van de Donk (Van de Sanden 85’) Brugts, Martens, Roord, Beerensteyn Subs not used: Wilms, Leuchter, Miedema, Snoeijs, Weimar, Kaptein, Lorsheyd
Referee: Tess Olofsson
Assistants: Almira Spahic and Emelie Elfstrand
Fourth Official: Eva Svardsudd
UEFA-Referee Observer: Ausra Kance
UEFA Delegate: Anna Kapasoglou