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Mary Earps ‘haunted’ by howler as Lionesses’ Olympic dream in the balance

Marp Earps - Mary Earps ‘haunted’ by howler as Lionesses' Olympic dream now out of their hands
Marp Earps was in tears at full-time despite England clawing back a 3-2 win - Getty Images/Marc Atkins

Distraught England goalkeeper Mary Earps said her mistake against the Netherlands would haunt her for a long time, despite the Lionesses producing a thrilling comeback that kept their hopes of qualifying for the Olympics on behalf of Team GB alive.

Earps softly spilt Lineth Beerensteyn’s strike that put the Dutch 2-0 up at half-time, with Beerensteyn having capitalised on some more poor England defending to get her opener. The Lionesses then scored twice in the space of a minute before Ella Toone won a gripping game in second-half stoppage time.

England’s players, and none more so than Earps, were downbeat at full-time, though, because they had been aiming to win by a margin of two goals to enhance their chances of finishing above the Netherlands in the group.

They can still top the group to stay in the hunt for Olympic qualification. However, if England and the Netherlands both win their final Nations League group games on Tuesday, the Lionesses would need to win in Glasgow by at least a three-goal margin greater than whatever the Netherlands’ margin of victory is. Hence why the squad slumped to the floor on the Wembley pitch at full-time, as the crowd celebrated their impressive victory.

“I thought the girls were unbelievable, to come back into the game like that,” a tearful Earps told ITV. “I am just sorry that my performance has cost my team tonight. That will haunt me for a long time. I have really let the team down today and I am really gutted.”

Wiegman defended her goalkeeper, insisting she had let nobody down and mistakes were part of football. “I don’t want her to talk like that,” she said. “You win as a team and you lose as a team. Of course she didn’t let the team down.”

The Dutchwoman is hopeful that her team can complete the job on Tuesday, adding: “First we have to win that game, and that’s what we’re going to do. And of course we’re going to push and try to put them fully under pressure to score as many goals as possible, but we have to be aware that we don’t want to concede any too.”

England's goalkeeper #01 Mary Earps reacts following the second goal scored by Netherlands' striker #07 Lineth Beerensteyn (rear L) during the UEFA Women's Nations League Group A
An uncharacteristic error from the England goalkeeper meant Netherlands went 2-0 up in the first half - Getty Images/Glyn Kirk
Mark Earps
Earps (centre) cut a frustrated figure at full-time - Reuters/Andre Couldridge

The Dutchwoman is hopeful that her team can complete the job on Tuesday, adding: “First we have to win that game, and that’s what we’re going to do. And of course we’re going to push and try to put them fully under pressure to score as many goals as possible, but we have to be aware that we don’t want to concede any too.”

This was a night when England knew they simply had to win, and show improvements on the performance that saw them lose in Belgium last time out. Instead they found arguably the worst 45 minutes of defending from England in Wiegman’s 25-month tenure so far, and going forward they were relatively uninspiring too, albeit Chloe Kelly and Lucy Bronze both saw efforts go narrowly wide. Wiegman had dropped Alessia Russo, opting to start Lauren Hemp as a number nine, but something was not clicking.

It is a feeling the Lionesses have not been accustomed to since Wiegman took over. She did not lose any of her first 30 games in charge of the Lionesses but that invincible streak feels far away now, as the impacts of injuries to Millie Bright and Leah Williamson begin to take their toll.

Yet this team has not become a bad side overnight, and they showed their class in the second half, not least through Lauren James, whose pinpoint cross picked out Georgia Stanway to make it 2-1. When Lauren Hemp then drilled in to equalise, every England player turned to run back into their own half, knowing they needed more. They responded in the same way when Toone slotted in in second-half stoppage time, chasing a two-goal margin of victory.

Ella Toone (right) - Mary Earps ‘haunted’ by howler as Lionesses' Olympic dream now out of their hands
Ella Toone (right) was the hero who returned to the super-sub role she occupied during the Euros - Getty Images/Paul Terry

Belgium, who led the group before kick-off, drew with Scotland on Friday night – meaning the Scots are relegated – but the Dutch now top the group, and England will need a flurry of goals north of the border.

Match details

England (4-2-3-1): Earps 4; Bronze 6, Carter 4 (Morgan, 63), Greenwood 6, Charles 6 (Daly 6, 86); Stanway 8 (Toone 7, 68), Walsh 6; Kelly 5 (Mead 7, 45), Kirby 6 (Russo 6, 68), James 6; Hemp 5
Subs not used: Hampton (gk), Wubben-Moy, Zelem, Clinton, Le Tissier, Keating (gk), Turner
Yellow cards: Greenwood
Netherlands (3-4-2-1): Van Domselaar 5; Dijkstra 6, Janssen 6 (Casparij 6, 73), Spitse 6 (Van Dongen 5, 70); Pelova 7, Groenen 7 (Egurrola 5, 45), Van de Donk 6 (Van de Sanden 6, 85), Brugts 6; Martens 6, Roord 7; Beerensteyn 8
Subs not used: Wilms, Leuchter, Miedema, Jansen, Snoeijs, Weimar (gk), Kaptein, Lorsheyd (gk)
Yellow cards: Van Dongen
Referee: Tess Olofsson (Sweden)
Attendance: 71,632


England come back to beat Netherlands in thriller: as it happened


10:06 PM GMT

Tom Garry's full-time verdict

Have you ever seen a team look so disappointed after scoring a stoppage-time winner to come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2? England appear crestfallen. A fourth goal would have put them in the driving seat, and they know it.

London, Britain - December 1, 2023 England's Keira Walsh
London, Britain - December 1, 2023 England's Keira Walsh

But they can still qualify. And their fate has improved emphatically since half-time. Belgium won’t make it easy for the Dutch on Tuesday.


10:05 PM GMT

Mary Earps: "Error will haunt me for a long time"

She looks pretty upset still. No doubt her error did not help.

“I thought the girls were unbelievable, to come back into the game like that... I am just sorry that my performance has cost my team tonight. That will haunt me for a long time.

“I have really let the team down today and I am really gutted, I am really really gutted because it could have been a really special night at Wembley. The goals were unbelievable... the girls were phenomenal.”


10:04 PM GMT

A reminder that England needed to win by at least two...

...to have Nations League progression and Olympic qualification in their own hands. As it happens they are relying on Belgium to get something from their game from Netherlands or England winning by a big margin against Scotland to overcome the Dutch’s superior goal difference.


10:02 PM GMT

Sarina Wiegman speaks after the game

“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 that we started the first half really well and they come with the counter attack and scored... but yeah we said at half-time we were not playing badly, we conceded two goals... keep going because they are struggling too.  I don’t think we played poor in the first half but when you have to score a goal we have to do something different.  I am impressed with my team and again with Ella, she scores a lot of important goals. Whether she starts or goes in she’s ready and that’s good.”


09:53 PM GMT

Mary Earps in tears at the final whistle...

England manager Sarina Wiegman and Alessia Russo console Mary Earps after the matc
England manager Sarina Wiegman and Alessia Russo console Mary Earps after the matc
England manager Sarina Wiegman and Alessia Russo console Mary Earps after the matc
England manager Sarina Wiegman and Alessia Russo console Mary Earps after the matc
England's Rachel Daly consoles Mary Earps after the match
England's Rachel Daly consoles Mary Earps after the match

09:47 PM GMT

Matchwinner Ella Toone

“It’s always nice to get on the scoresheet, the main thing is that we won and we did that. We showed a lot of character to get that win. It was a great comeback... yeah, three good goals. It was really special to get on the scoresheet at Wembley.”


09:41 PM GMT

FULL TIME: ENGLAND 3 NETHERLANDS 2

England were excellent in the second half, deserving of the win. That came after a rotten, error-strewn first half. Were they as good in the second 45 as they were bad in the first 45? Not quite, but there were chances a plenty and England nearly got the scoreline they wanted. Imagine what it might have been like without those errors...


09:40 PM GMT

90+4 mins ENG 3 NED 2

Netherlands break but Morgan makes a crucial challenge and England attack...

Mead gets trapped on the edge of the box, no support.

England still have the ball in the final third but the referee inexplicably blows the whistle six seconds before the five seconds of added time are up.

England win but it’s not as big as they would have liked... and needed. England will rely on other results to qualify for the next stage. It goes down to the final game.


09:38 PM GMT

90+4 mins ENG 3 NED 2

Another great chance for England as a ball comes in at the far post for Hemp! Casparij does her duty and flings out a leg and clears what would have almost certainly been a shot and target and possibly a goal...


09:37 PM GMT

90+3 mins ENG 3 NED 2

Mead with (almost) a couple of very good chances to get that fourth! But she cannot get the shot away.

Then a ball comes in to Russo on the six yard line, she throws out a right boot between two orange shirts but can only shin it over! Drama...


09:36 PM GMT

GOAAAAL! ENGLAND FIND A THIRD! A WINNER?

Hemp to James, James sends in another superb cross from the left to the far post... Ella Toone is there and slots it between the keeper’s legs, hitting it side-footed first time to put England ahead!

That is a superb ball in and a superb finish. Not a huge celebration because England need to win 4-2 to have things in their own hands going into that final game against Scotland. Goal difference important here.

England 3 Netherlands 2


09:33 PM GMT

89 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

Martens breaks on the right, gets into the penalty area and lets fly! It’s a sweet hit but it’s at Earps who guards her near post well enough this time and sends it behind for a corner...

Time is running out for England...


09:32 PM GMT

88 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

Fiona Tomas on England’s late charge: “Earps is urging Esme Morgan to boot the ball up field. You feel it’s now or never for England.”


09:30 PM GMT

86 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

England are going for it. Rachel Daly is on...


09:27 PM GMT

83 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

Again so close!  Netherlands make a bit of a mess of it, Toone picks it up on the right edge of the box and shoots with her left but it is deflected, fortunately for the Dutch, over. England have a corner.

Mead swings it in from the right on the secondary attack, Mead heads it wide again...


09:24 PM GMT

80 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

Walsh finds Bronze on the right with a wonderful pass, she finds Toone, James, then Hemp on the left with the cross into Mead who heads it... wide! So close. Underneath it a little.


09:23 PM GMT

79 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

As it stands England would not be able to make it through to the Nations League...

Can they find something?


09:22 PM GMT

77 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

Greenwood sends in a raking pass across the field to... nobody. It goes out for a throw. Netherlands now a little more in the game. Beerensteyn takes an excellent touch and turns to shoot in the box but it is blocked. Dangerous Dutch...


09:19 PM GMT

75 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

England have not had much pressure to endure this half but Netherlands mount an attack of their own as Beerensteyn has a shot from the edge of the box, but it is blocked. A draw is still a hell of a lot more useful to the Dutch than the English, though... and they are getting a bit more of the ball.


09:17 PM GMT

72 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

Walsh has a shot from just outside the box, hits it well but the keeper saves fairly comfortably. But chances are coming for England, fairly frequently. Russo and Toone on in the last few minutes with Morgan on five minutes before. Stanway, Kirby and Carter all off.


09:13 PM GMT

67 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

Is this game’s England’s for the taking? The second half has kicked on in the way that the first half didn’t. Both began strongly but two England errors meant they went in two down.

Bronze clips it in but the ball is cleared by the Dutch defence... for now.


09:12 PM GMT

Fiona Tomas at Wembley

What have we just witnessed?! Two goals in two minutes and England are right back in it. The Lionesses raced back and Georgia Stanway – who has been involved in both - plonked the ball decisively down in the centre circle as if to say, ‘Come on, let’s be having you!’


09:11 PM GMT

Tom Garry on England's second goal, the equaliser

Every England player turned to run straight back into their own half, immediately after Lauren Hemp scored that second goal. There was no celebrating. A draw means nothing for them. They know they have to win.


09:08 PM GMT

63 mins - ENG 2 NED 2

How the game can turn around.... and how it has. England’s Nations Leagues hopes are still alive. Plenty of time for a winner here.


09:07 PM GMT

GOAAAL! IN NO TIME ENGLAND ARE LEVEL!

IT’S LAUREN HEMP! 2-2!

James and Charles begin the move, it then comes back into the box, where it is then sent back to Hemp on the edge of the box - she then curls a perfect shot with her left foot past van Domselaar and Wembley erupts!

England 2 Netherlands 2


09:04 PM GMT

GOAAAL! ENGLAND HAVE ONE BACK

James drivers through the midfield, finds Charles on the left back to James who plays a superb ball in diagonally onto Georgia Stanway’s head, who then nods calmly past the Dutch goalie! Excellent technique on both the pass and the header, really cushioning it across goal from a difficult angle.

“Game on!” as the saying goes when a team gets a goal back...

England 1 Netherlands 2


09:02 PM GMT

56 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

Hemp dances in the midfield, finds Stanway whose heavy touch means England lose the ball again...

Lauren Hemp of England Women, Sherida Spitse of Holland Women during the UEFA Womens Nations League match between England Women v Holland Women on December 1, 2023
Lauren Hemp of England Women, Sherida Spitse of Holland Women during the UEFA Womens Nations League match between England Women v Holland Women on December 1, 2023

08:59 PM GMT

54 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

Bronze puts Kirby in on the edge of the penalty box but the ball deflects to James further out. She doesn’t shoot when she probably should have, instead trying to find a white shirt at the left post but fails and it’s a goal kick.

England create another couple of chances which ends in James having a shot from distance, this time. It’s poor and is miles wide and miles over, leaning back as she let fly.

Better from England, but lacking in quality still.


08:56 PM GMT

52 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

Beerensteyn charges down a loose ball over the top but this time England, thankfully, cut out the danger. Lucy Bronze rises to win a header and then that results in an orange shirt on the ground and we have a brief stoppage.


08:54 PM GMT

49 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

England starting this half in a similar style to how they started the first half, but we know how that all ended...


08:52 PM GMT

46 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

Lauren James, who has been probably England’s most dangerous player, whips in a good cross in from the left but neither white shirt can pick out the bouncing ball and Netherlands clear.


08:50 PM GMT

KICK OFF! Second half under way

Beth Mead is on to play her first England game for over a year, in place of Chloe Kelly.


08:43 PM GMT

Fiona Tomas's half-time verdict

The atmosphere has fallen flat at Wembley and it’s pretty fitting to hear Destiny’s Child Survivor blare out as the teams walk down the tunnel. The Lionesses are gon’ have to work harder after the break...


08:37 PM GMT

Tom Garry's half-time verdict


08:35 PM GMT

HALF TIME: ENG 0 NED 2

Two Beerensteyn means England are looking dead if not buried when it comes to their hopes of helping Great Britain qualify for next year’s Olympics. What about the game itself? They will have to improve a whole lot at the front and even more at the back if they are to get anything.


08:33 PM GMT

45+2 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

The half ends with a bit of promise from England, Niamh Charles charging on the left but she cannot pick up the ball is ait rolls over the byline.


08:31 PM GMT

45+1 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

Netherlands knock the ball around rather well. Janssen goes down on the far side... looked an innocuous challenge but replays show she has rolled her ankle.


08:30 PM GMT

43 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

The atmosphere at Wembley seems a bit deflated even on the TV. Hard to get too enthusiastic about what England have presented in the first half, mind you.


08:27 PM GMT

Fiona Tomas: Team GB's hopes are hanging by a thread

Defensive howler for the first, a Mary Earps howler for the Netherlands’ second. Earps, the woman who made goalkeeping popular at the World Cup this year after taking on sportswear giant Nike, coupled with her brilliant performance in the final, shows she is human. England’s night just went from bad to worse. Team GB’s Olympic hopes hang by a thread.


08:26 PM GMT

40 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

Have Netherlands been that much better than England? Not really, but they have been better and have taken advantage of those errors.


08:25 PM GMT

38 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

A hint of offside for that second Netherlands goal and, after the mistake with the corner/goal kick at the first, England should feel a little aggrieved. However, it has been (at least) two errors that have contributed to those two goals and that is simply unacceptable.


08:23 PM GMT

36 mins - ENG 0 NED 2

Kelly has a shot from the edge of the box with her right. It’s hard and heading to the far post but whistles just wide...


08:22 PM GMT

GOAAAAL! ENGLAND GO TWO DOWN!

England lose the ball in their own half... the Dutch knock it through to Beerensteyn, rather fortunately with no England player clearing the danger. Beerensteyn then shoots low and directly at Earps from about 15 yards out. The keeper makes an absolute mess of it diving to her right and it squirms over the goal line. Poor, poor, goalkeeping and she rightly thumps the earth in frustration at that.

“Arguably Earps could have done better,” says Emma Hayes about that. It was not, it was definitive.

ENG 0 NED 2


08:18 PM GMT

32 mins - ENG 0 NED 1

Spitse has a go but it is never troubling Earps. The shot is high, wide and not very handsome.


08:17 PM GMT

30 mins - ENG 0 NED 1

Pelova charges through the England line, Greenwood sticks her leg out and brings her down and is rightly booked for it. It’s about 24 yards out on the right side of the box. Spitse has it lined up...


08:16 PM GMT

Tom Garry: Wiegman will be frustrated

Sarina Wiegman’s expression portrays that of a concerned manager, coupled with a very chilly one, on this bitterly cold December night. She has scarcely strayed from her position on the edge of her technical area, watching on pensively, with her hands crossed behind her back. She’ll be very frustrated that her side gifted away that goal from the Dutch’s first counter attack.


08:14 PM GMT

29 mins - ENG 0 NED 1

England finally stringing together a few passes. Kelly has the ball again on the right but is dispossessed as she charges towards the centre of the pitch. James’ tries to find Kelly from the other side of the pitch but her loopy pass is cut out.


08:13 PM GMT

25 min - ENG 0 NED 1

This is better from England but it has only been the last few minutes or so. Bronze and Stanway link up but the Dutch see off the danger as Chloe Kelly’s cross from the right is cleared. England come again...


08:10 PM GMT

22 min - ENG 0 NED 1

Lauren James wanders, in space, towards the penalty box and lets fly from 22 yards having shrugged off a challenge on the way. It’s well struck but is well over, too.


08:08 PM GMT

19 min - ENG 0 NED 1

A corner from the Dutch, it comes back out to Roord on the left who lifts a cross in which bounces off the top of the bar before being put away for another corner.


08:06 PM GMT

19 min - ENG 0 NED 1

England pinned in their own half... struggling to keep the ball. Wouldn’t say it’s panic stations, but it is all rather messy at the moment.


08:04 PM GMT

17 min - ENG 0 NED 1

Van de Donk has a shot from the left edge of the box and hits it well, but it is not well-directed enough. England now under the cosh since that goal and struggling to dig themselves out of trouble. Netherlands look far more confident now, shifting it around in England’s final third.


08:02 PM GMT

13 min - ENG 0 NED 1

Fair to say that early goal is a hammer blow to England’s hopes of getting Great Britain to the Olympics. Pressure on, says Fiona Tomas.

Despite enjoying all the possession in the opening 10 minutes, the Lionesses find themselves behind after a defensive stinker. That was a terribly bad mix up between Lucy Bronze and Jess Carter. If the pressure wasn’t on already, it certainly is now.


07:59 PM GMT

GOAAAAL!

Netherlands have taken the lead! It’s direct and it is also well worked. A ball from the right across and forward into the penalty area from Pelova. Beerensteyn is there in the penalty area and takes advantage of confusion from Carter and Bronze and then slots home beyond Earps!

Totally against the run of play and it should never have been a goal kick, so clearly did the Netherlands keeper tip it behind, but it is a goal and the Dutch are ahead.

Sloppy from England after a good start.

England 0 Netherlands 1


07:57 PM GMT

9 min - ENG 0 NED 0

Netherlands do get into the England half by virtue of a Brugts long ball over the top but Mary Earps advances out of her area and gives it a big boot clear.

England attack, James sends in a lovely superbly weighted through-ball to Lauren Hemp who shoots across goal, but van Domselaar saves and tips it wide... but it’s been given a goal kick, totally incorrectly.


07:54 PM GMT

7 min - ENG 0 NED 0

The Dutch still struggling to get out of their own half as England come and come again, down the right this time. Hemp fouls an orange shirt this time and it is a little respite for Netherlands.


07:53 PM GMT

5 min - ENG 0 NED 0

James on the left, Charles then swings it in but the following header from Kelly goes wide. Could have done better? Yes, probably. It’s mostly England at the moment, Netherlands not getting much of a kick.


07:50 PM GMT

2 min - ENG 0 NED 0

It’s another foul, this time Lauren Hemp the aggrieved party and the free-kick is from an attacking position, on the left. Still a fair way out, mind you. Greenwood swings it in with her left foot but it is headed clear, though England come again.


07:49 PM GMT

Fiona Tomas is at Wembley

The Lionesses’ starting line-up was belted out over the tannoy. The biggest cheer is reserved for goalkeeping queen Mary Earps, who has enjoyed a standout year after her performances at the World Cup. She captains England in this must-win game tonight.  


07:47 PM GMT

1 min - ENG 0 NED 0

“This is a great opportunity to see two top teams,” says Emma Hayes on co-comms on ITV.

England win a free-kick as Stanway is fouled defending just outside her own box.


07:46 PM GMT

KICK OFF!

We are under way at Wembley after the traditional taking of the knee. It’s the visitors who get the ball rolling, literally.


07:40 PM GMT

A tribute to Terry Venables on ITV

Meanwhile, we are just five minutes away from kick-off.


07:31 PM GMT

Tom Garry is at Wembley

Tonight England are honouring a host of former Lionesses players and presenting some of them with their ‘legacy caps’, with many of the early-year internationals never having received a cap or proper recognition for their services.

Wendy Owen, a member of the original England women’s side, played against the Netherlands 50 years ago, and told Telegraph Sport: “They’ve presented us with shirts - we never got shirts in our time. The Women’s FA that ran football, in our era, were doing it on a shoestring budget.

“Back in the day [in interviews] we always used to get asked things like ‘what does your boyfriend think about you playing?’ and they always wanted to focus on appearance, they always wanted the one with the long blonde hair to be in the photographs. That’s what they were like. They didn’t focus on the skills or the tactics of the game. It was a novelty. Our captain Sheila Parker was asked once by the press ‘who’s looking after the baby?’

“[Now] it’s really great to be recognised.”


07:27 PM GMT

Lauren Hemp becomes the 48th England women to make 50 caps

Topping the list with 172 caps is Fara Williams. Hemp is only 23, so there is plenty of time to make here way up the list as she surely will.

Lauren Hemp
Lauren Hemp

Mind you, matching Williams – whose career spanned almost 18 years – would be another 122 caps. For Hemp to match that timespan would take her to 2037, when she would be 37. So, it’s definitely possible...


07:18 PM GMT

How it stands in England's Group

  1. Netherlands 9pts

  2. Belgium 7pts

  3. England 6pts

  4. Scotland 1pt

This is after all teams have played four games.


07:12 PM GMT

Tommy Garry is there for Telegraph Sport


07:03 PM GMT

And how the visitors will line up, too

Starting XI: Van Domselaar, Dijkstra, Roord, Beerensteyn, Spitse (capt.), Van de Donk, Martens, Groenen, Pelova, Janssen, Brugts
Substitutes: Lorsheyd, Weimar, Casparij, Damaris, Van Dongen, Jansen, Kaptein, Leuchter, Miedema, Van de Sanden, Snoeijs, Wilms


07:02 PM GMT

England team news

Starting XI: Earps, Bronze, Greenwood, Carter, Charles, Walsh, Stanway, Kirby, Hemp, James, Kelly
Substitutes: Morgan, Hampton, Toone, Wubben-Moy, Zelem, Mead, Clinton, Daly, Le Tissier, Keating, Turner, Russo


04:33 PM GMT

Good evening

And welcome to our live coverage as England women, aka the Lionesses, take on Netherlands women. Funnily enough there’s a single lion on the Holland team’s logo, which is the badge of the Royal Dutch Football Association, as opposed to the three on England’s. Funnily enough again, the nickname for England’s opponents tonight is Leeuwinnen which translates to, yes, the Lionesses.

Anyway, this is a critical match for Sarina Wiegman (who is Dutch and also coached the Netherlands women team from 2017-2021) and her team, who currently sit third in their Uefa Nations League group after four games, having won two and lost two.

Much like the men’s game, you have to ask if the Nations League matters that much? Well, of course it depends. It’s another trophy to win but it is hardly a heartbreak if you do not win it. A more pertinent point for this game is that England are the nominated team for the Great Britain Olympic team and England need to win tonight to keep their chances of Team GB qualifying for Paris 2024 alive.

To do that England must win both this game and their next game against Scotland to secure top place in Group A1 and thus Great Britain’s qualifying to the Olympics. Yes, it is a bit odd that they will have to defeat one of the other nations that make up the selection group for Great Britain, but it is all a bit of an odd system in general.

Of the game, Wiegman said: “I think the team is ready. We’re really excited to play at Wembley. We’re very clear on how we want to play and what we want to do and I see good things on and off the pitch, and that gives me confidence that we’re really ready.”

Lauren Hemp of England walks to the team bus as the England squad leave St George's Park on November 30, 2023 in Burton upon Trent, England
Lauren Hemp of England walks to the team bus as the England squad leave St George's Park on November 30, 2023 in Burton upon Trent, England

Lauren Hemp looks likely to make her 50th appearance for the Lionesses tonight, at just the age of 23. Speaking earlier in the week ahead of the game, she said that there was “no better place than Wembley” to reach that milestone.

“It’s pretty surreal. Every cap is special to me but obviously to make 50 would be incredible. If you had told me when I was younger that at the age of 23 I would have 50 caps, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

“To make 50 is the first step and every one after that is a bonus,” added Hemp.

“It’s exciting to think about what I could achieve in the future but I need to take every game as it comes.

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