A rampant English side continued their good form by belting a weak Northern Irish team in the final group stages game in the Euros.

The Lionesses didn’t miss their manager Sarina Wiegman from the touchline, who had tested positive for COVID-19 and had to isolate, with assistant manager Arjan Veurink taking the reigns for the time being.

The tournament organisers came into this fixture as overwhelming favourites having won all their 10 encounters in all competitions with Northern Ireland were regarded as the underdogs but in November they held them off for 60 minutes before succumbing to Beth Mead’s hattrick.

Northern Ireland’s Lauren Wade kicked off the evening by testing England’s goalkeeper Mary Earps who saved the ball in the opening minute of the game.

The match official had two penalty calls in the opening minutes with Northern Ireland’s Laura Rafferty and England’s Mead handball incidents which were not awarded to either of them after consultation with VAR.

During the post-match press conference, England assistant manager Arjan Veurink praised the team’s performance in the circumstances.

“Sarina (Wiegman) is doing well but not good enough to be here, as we all know every individual reacts differently on COVID, it’s tough for me to say anything about that,” he said.

“She will not [be with] the team live but as COVID taught us is that we can do a lot of things digital as well, so hopefully she [will] be [with] the team as soon as possible.

“At the end, the team performed [and] the team showed that whatever is going on [is that] we have a lot of quality.

“What pleases me the most is that they were calm, relaxed and although it’s not great that Sarina is not here… they worked really well.

“I am so happy with the team performance and the great goals we scored.”

It was another frustrating evening for Ellen White who is one goal away from equaling England’s all-time greatest goal scorer, Wayne Rooney who’s on 53 goals.

Both teams had numerous chances to go ahead in the opening minutes, but they were either missed or saved by goalkeepers and the best of all was Lionesses defender Milly Bright’s long-range drive outside the box in the 22nd minute.

What pleases me the most is that they were calm, relaxed and although it’s not great that Sarina is not here… they worked really well.

This was the third game in a row England’s matches had set attendance records in the tournament with this one watched by 30,875 spectators in the Stadium.

White’s shot missed the target just inches in the 24th minute while defender Lucy Bronze’s header also missed in the 32nd minute and Georgia Stanway’s 38th-minute shot was also blocked on the line by Northern Ireland’s Rebecca Holloway.

Northern Ireland was pegged in their half for the majority of the time but one opportunity fell to Lauren Wade who missed before the lineswoman raised the flag in the 35th minute.

The Lionesses eventually broke Northern Ireland’s stiff resistance in the 39th minute when Fran Kirby placed the ball in the top corner from Lauren Hemp’s blocked shot.

Before even the game had reached its conclusion England employed suffocation tactics on Northern Ireland so much so that they had completed 420 passes while their neighbours had only 55.


Kirby’s goal also marked a significant milestone for the Lionesses being its 50th in Euro finals tournaments.

England by this time could not let Northern Ireland’s side have a breather and Beth Mead’s dancing feet in the box, opened gaps in the defence in the 43rd minute which extended their lead to 2-0.

Mead is the current top scorer in the tournament with five goals but her impressive goal-scoring record for England is 19 goals all season.

Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels said during the post-match press conference he was impressed with how his team played considering how tough it was for them.

“It was always going to be tough for us but I don’t know if everybody realises that England haven’t conceded a goal in the last three years of proper football like Euro’s and World Cup,” he said.

“They haven’t conceded a goal so that’s how much further up the ladder they are from us [and] I thought our organisation was excellent tonight [and] we put them into a position of nullification.

“They got a deflected goal and another deflected goal, but they were the better team obviously [and] I was proud of the players and how they adapted to how we set up they were fantastic [and] they gave everything.

“I must say I was really impressed with how we stuck to our task, and we created three or four half chances and that reflected on us… we didn’t play out as much as we would have normally because they are too good for us.

“It would be a massive failure if they didn’t win this tournament because they are home and hosed and I think you all see that as well [and] everyone else should just go home.

The former Dutch manager and Euro winner in 2017, Wiegman management has guided England to brilliant form before and in the tournament -scoring 19 goals and only conceding three in return.

The Lionesses made some changes to their line-up in the second half with Alessia Russo, Ella Toone and Alex Greenwood coming on and minutes later super sub-Russo headed in her third goal in the tournament in the 47th minute.

The Lionesses had played some beautiful football in the tournament so far and Russo’s brilliant goal in the 52nd minute making 4-0 signified the dominance of the home nation’s confidence and ability.

This was the first time England had gone through a football tournament without conceding in the group stages, a feat only Germany in 2005 had experienced.

It was always going to be tough for us but I don’t know if everybody realises that England haven’t conceded a goal in the last three years of proper football.

Also, Ella Toone troubled the Northern Ireland defence from the first moment she stepped on the pitch and her record marked 11 games played, and 10 goals scored in all competitions.

Northern Ireland tried to change things up and brought on Burrows, Magee, Nadene Caldwell, Emily Wilson and Ashley Hutton, while England introduced Chole Kelly and Jess Carter in the second half.

The Lionesses grabbed their final goal of the game when unplayable Mead chipped a cross in the box and Burrows tried to control the ball, which looped over her goalkeeper and ended in the back of the net making it 5-0 in the 75th minute.

Northern Ireland goes out of the tournament not taking a single point in the group stages but England’s journey continues to the quarter-finals for their next opponents with the hope of winning it for the first time in their history.

Screenshot courtesy Optus Sports.