Sarina Wiegman, the manager of England, praised the record attendance of 69,000 as evidence of how far the women’s game has progressed after the Lionesses’ 1-0 victory against Austria to kick off Euro 2022.
The crowd was over 30,000 more than the previous record for a women’s European Championship match.
Most spectators at the Theatre of Dreams received what they came for as Beth Mead’s early goal gave the hosts the win despite a lacklustre effort.
There aren’t enough words to describe it, Wiegman stated.
“From where we’ve come, playing in front of 70,000 people at Old Trafford is fantastic.
“I hope they come back, and they will because the stadiums are packed out.”
England is among the favourites to win their first major women’s tournament, and home advantage is only one of the reasons for it.
Since taking over in September, Wiegman, who coached the Netherlands to victory at Euro 2017, is currently undefeated in 15 games.
The hosts initially seemed to be carrying a lot of pressure.
But in the 16th minute, Mead, who Fran Kirby’s lofted pass had selected, calmly hoisted the ball over Manuela Zinsberger, kicking off the competition in style.
Although Carina Wenninger made a valiant effort to clear the ball, it had already crossed the line before she stepped in.
Then, England began to play with the consistency that has allowed them to score 85 goals while giving up only three throughout the Wiegman period.
When Ellen White of Manchester City headed a tantalizing pass from Lauren Hemp wide, she should have contributed to her record 50 goals for England in international play.
In the last seconds of the first half, Zinsberger made a crucial save to divert Hemp’s shot, demonstrating why she is one of the finest goalkeepers in the world.
England’s depth was on display in convincing pre-tournament friendly victories against Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
However, this time, Wiegman’s triple change to introduce the younger legs of Ella Toone, Chloe Kelly, and Alessia Russo around the hour mark had no effect.
Instead, much as when the teams faced off in World Cup qualifying in November, England was forced to accept a slim margin of victory as Austria defended well and had a chance to steal a point.
To keep England from conceding, Mary Earps had to deflect Barbara Dunst’s curling attempt from beyond the box before making an easier stop from Julia Hickelsberger-Fuller.
The most crucial thing is winning the first game, according to Georgia Stanway, an England midfielder named player of the match.
“Being able to settle oneself into the competition puts you in a strong position. There is still space for development.
“The event was huge, so naturally there were some anxieties.”
On Monday in Brighton, England will play Norway in what is anticipated to be their hardest test of the group stages.
The same day in Southampton, Austria takes on tournament rookies Northern Ireland.