USA scalp proves Lionesses at 'very high level' ahead of World Cup – Wiegman

By Sports Desk October 07, 2022

England head coach Sarina Wiegman is satisfied Friday's 2-1 win over world champions the United States proves her Lionesses are at a "very high level" less than a year out from the Women's World Cup.

European champions England were playing at the scene of their momentous Euro 2022 triumph on July 31 for the first time, with the USA – the most successful team in women's football – visiting Wembley.

Although only a friendly, pre-game interest around the match was significant with it said to have been the fastest-selling England fixture – men or women – at the new Wembley.

The crowd was treated to an entertaining contest, with Lauren Hemp giving England an early lead as she pounced on a failed interception in the penalty area.

Sophia Smith levelled in the 28th minute after England lost possession just outside their own box, but Georgia Stanway quickly restored the advantage from the spot after Lucy Bronze was caught by a high boot.

A marginal offside call a few moments later denied USA a well-worked equaliser and England ultimately held firm in the second half, with a VAR review overturning a late penalty award for the visitors and leaving Wiegman happy but philosophical.

"That was really intense, just what we wanted," she told ITV Sport. "USA played as we expected, they gave us hard times sometimes, which is normal as they are really good.

"I thought we played well in moments, actually in the first half a little better than the second. In the second we had some problems to get out of the press, but it's 2-1 and I think it was a great game."

Asked if this victory will put a target on their back as the team to beat at next year's World Cup, she added: "The target is there all the time!

"We said before this game, yes we want to play the game, win the game, but whatever happens this is just the starting point for getting prepared for the World Cup.

"But of course it's really nice when you win the game and show shows you are at a very high level."

The Lionesses appeared to ride their luck on occasion, particularly with regard to the tight offside call in their favour to deny the USA an equaliser.

USA had luck in behind more than once, but Wiegman felt that although England were not perfect, their high press and aggressive nature off the ball was what she wanted to see.

"I understand [the defensive concerns], sometimes we were very open, played with a lot of space in the back and we know the USA are very quick, a very athletic team," he said.

"We didn't choose to just drop back to get the space behind the defence very small, we just wanted to play a game with the high press.

"In those moments, we knew that, but it's something we will review and see if we can do better, but this is how we want to play."

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