Lionesses celebrate 50th anniversary with win over world champions

Members of 1972 first England Women's squad
Members of 1972 first England squad during the friendly game between England and USA at Wembley Stadium. (Pedro Soares/SPP)

England beat the USA 2-1 on the 50th anniversary of the Lionesses first international in front of 76,893 at Wembley Stadium.

There was an amazing sense of occasion and honouring of former Lionesses (almost 150 in attendance, including the  1972 team who formed a guard of honour as the players entered the pitch) on the 50th anniversary of the first England Women’s match.

This pleasing win will provide England with motivation for the World Cup next year in Australia and New Zealand, writes Rosie Cowell.

Lauren Hemp finished simply to put England 1-0 up at the national stadium. Beth Mead set the attack into motion as the Lionesses broke at a high tempo. Alana Cook was left scrambling to reach the cross but was unsuccessful.

In the 30th minute, the USA equalised as Stanway was dispossessed by Lindsey Horan whilst attempting to play out from the back. Sophia Smith capitalised on this mistake, striking with power into the bottom corner.

The decisive penalty resulted from a high foot on defender Lucy Bronze in the box. There was a red card review in the immediate aftermath but a yellow card would suffice for Hailie Mace. Georgia Stanway delivered from the spot.

England v USA - International Friendly
Georgia Stanway strikes from the penalty spot to score England’s second of the night. (Pedro Soares/SPP)

VAR had a huge role in England’s victory, having been consulted on three occasions by Riem Hussein. Following Stanway’s penalty, it was used a further two times by the German referee. Trinity Rodman thought she had got one back for the USA as she passed the ball home comfortably. She was unchallenged by the English back line but it was chalked off for an offside by Smith in the build-up with VAR being called in to aid the decision, much to the disappointment of the USA fans.

There was almost a penalty awarded to the USA following a potential handball by Lauren Hemp, closing in on full-time. However, Hussein withdrew the decision and no penalty was awarded.

England v USA - International Friendly - Wembley Stadium
Rachel Daly celebrates victory over the USA by wearing a cowboy hat. (Liam Asman/SPP)

Whilst it was a very competitive friendly against a strong USA side, Sarina Wiegman remained pragmatic. 

The England head coach said: “You’re the best team in the world if you win the World Cup and we haven’t done that.

“We’re in a good place but we have to keep working hard. We’ve seen our team grow very much and that’s really exciting to be a part of.”

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