Sarina Wiegman acknowledged that England “can do better” after her side’s narrow victory against Austria in the Euro 2022 curtain raiser at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
“Overall I’m happy and not frustrated,” the Lionesses’ manager said after Beth Mead’s fine early finish secured a 1-0 Group A win in front of a Women’s European Championship record attendance of almost 69,000 at Manchester United’s home.
“But I just think we can do better. It’s hard to say if nerves had an effect but we didn’t keep the ball well enough. We were sloppy on the ball at times.
“We lost the ball too quick. We were in transitions all the time, that’s really tiring and they pressed us well. We scored a good goal but missed some chances. We started not very good and then did a lot better. We have to be a little calmer in the final stages.”
England, who face Norway at Brighton on Monday night and then meet Northern Ireland at Southampton on Friday, are now unbeaten in 15 games under Wiegman, the longest undefeated run in their history. Even so their seventh successive victory was hard-fought against Irene Fuhrmann’s well-organised side.
“Don’t underestimate Austria, they’re a good, strong, organised side,” said England’s manager, who led the Netherlands to Euro 2017 glory. “But the important thing is that we won. The first game in a tournament it’s so important to win and have a good start.
“If you don’t win the first game it can put too much pressure on you for the next game. We have to prepare for Norway now.”
Mead was suitably delighted after her skilful chip separated the teams. “This is beyond words,” the Arsenal forward said. “What an amazing night. The atmosphere was unbelievable. It’s great to start the tournament with a win.”
Leah Williamson, the England captain, was left marvelling at the experience. “What an occasion,” the Arsenal centre-half said.
“The atmosphere was pretty special. When they played the national anthem I had to close my eyes because if I’d looked at my mum I’d have cried. But we dealt with the pressure and everything around it well.
“We settled into the game. One hundred per cent we should have scored more but the three points are all I care about.”