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England qualify for the 2023 Women's World Cup and face Austria, but there's still more to come for the Lionesses

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Wiener Neustadt, Austria — Goals in each half in Austria were more than enough for England. The newly crowned European champions returned to competitive action with his 2-0 win to secure a spot in the 2023 World Cup for him. in their qualified group.

England’s record under Sarina Wiegman was, in a word, breathtaking. Or, if you prefer, charming. When the former Dutch national team coach was lured by the FA to officially take over in September 2021 after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the FA could not have hoped for the immense success she and her team have enjoyed. .

The last 12 months have seen the bubble burst every time England took the pitch and the team ended up losing 90 minutes, but the unbeaten streak continues. Since kicking the first ball against North Macedonia in qualifying last September, the Wiegman era has been known only for victories.

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An important caveat stands out that in those 21 matches, they played mostly against FIFA’s outer-rim ranked teams, with only a handful of elite opponents. Some told stories, such as the Arnold Clarke Cup friendly against the COVID-stricken German team in June, while others were routine and mundane. their opposition amateur status. When the team scored his 20 goals past Latvia, we have to ask how much more he could accomplish in those 90 minutes. Over July.

Despite the lopsided nature of many clashes, these big victories gave England an air of invincibility. A team that can All of that was done to fill a barren trophy cabinet, save for one Cyprus Cup and one his SheBelieves Cup, two friendly tournaments. Disputed before Easter.

In Wiener Neustadt, a quiet suburb south of Vienna, England continued to display the sophistication that has become synonymous with the Wiegmann era. With or without the ball, the players are free to roam and always seem to have at least one white shirt ready when the ball moves from one end of the pitch to the other. It looked like

Alessia Russo’s early goal was scored after the ball deflected off teammate Georgia Steinway and was carried by the Manchester United attacker to score, allowing England to relax further. , after Russo swept the ball low with his back to goal, then waved in the seventh minute.

A small country in women’s football, Austria has come a long way in the last six years or so, with recent records that most teams can be proud of. their current game run. But, of course, it was England as a thorn on their side.The visitors, who are still high-riding after a dreamy summer, counter-pressed with ease, chasing every ball, and one foot race after another. You have shown your athletic ability to win.

Fortune, fitness and undoubted talent confounded heads in the same team as Julia Hickelsberger-Fuller chased Mary Arps’ capricious clearance and overcame fear at the start of the second half on goal. did. Eventually, the ball spread wide and scraped a layer of paint off the uprights along the way. If Austria were playing against a non-England team, it was the type of play that would lead to goals, but of course they were playing against England.

When Nikita Paris put the ball into the net seven minutes into the game, there was no way back for Austria, whose defeat had wiped out automatic World Cup hopes.

As Wiegman said in his pre-match press conference the day before the group decider, “When you’re happy with what you’re doing, you’re losing. They are clearly showing no signs of complacency after the euro victory that ended the wounds across Britain. But there is a clear understanding that the work is not done yet, ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

There is a feeling that we have yet to see the best of this England team. There is a sense that there are more gears the team can go through with the pedals not flattening against the metal yet, but as they showed against Austria, they need everything. Maybe it reads that they’re happy to rest on their laurels, but there’s always more left in the tank, giving them the feeling that they’re using their energy wisely.

England will have another fantastic summer (well, Australian winter) next year and will need to eat up more ground to close the gap to the world’s best, but we still have the promise this team has. Waiting to see additional gear that does something special.

History threatens to repeat itself for Wiegmann, whose first match after beating the Netherlands at Euros in 2017 was a 2-0 away victory over Austria. A loss to the United States in the final is timely, as the world’s number one-ranked team will face England at Wembley in October.