On the time I used to be nonetheless taking part in membership soccer in the US, and I can bear in mind pondering how grateful I used to be I’d be on the opposite aspect of the world from the event which kicked off this week down south.
Nonetheless, I’m in fact now again taking part in my membership soccer in England, and it means I’m proper within the thick of issues – as the beginning of pre-season and health testing at Villa coincided with Euro 2022’s opening recreation at Outdated Trafford.
When Scotland didn’t qualify for the Euros, I didn’t suppose I wished to be close to England this summer time.
As England are hosts, they kickstarted the event on Wednesday evening in opposition to Austria, a aspect who not many residence followers had been too involved about beforehand, however who got here into the match as an upcoming nation with a number of key gamers who shall be on lots of people’s ‘ones to look at’ lists.
As I’ve tried to place throughout, I wouldn’t essentially have chosen to be at that specific match, however ended up attending attributable to a sponsorship obligation.
And, I need to say, that the entire day and evening was a unbelievable, brilliantly-organised spectacle.
It made for a robust starting to what must be three weeks of celebrating a few of the finest ladies’s groups and gamers, with a record-breaking event anticipated.
The opening ceremony was a vibrant and energetic explosion of motion. Though it might need been exhausting to see by means of the smoke for these watching at residence, it was an excellent exhibition contained in the sell-out stadium.
The sport itself was a little bit ragged within the opening spells and the anticipated dominance from England by no means actually got here.
Austria had been unphased by the one-sided file crowd in attendance and so they bravely performed out from the again. That was orchestrated largely by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.
Though the Austrians by no means fairly mustered a clear-cut alternative of their very own within the 90 minutes, they definitely greater than competed.
England managed to get themselves in entrance within the first half, when Fran Kirby performed the ball excessive for Beth Mead, who took the ball on her chest earlier than lofting it over her membership teammate in Austria’s purpose.
The celebrations had been barely dampened when it regarded as if Wenninger had cleared it off the road by way of the crossbar, earlier than the trusty VAR confirmed the ball was in by a whisker.
Mead’s purpose was her thirteenth in 9 video games for her nation, and it turned out to be sufficient to get England a win of their opening match – regardless of their confidence coming into the event, the hosts definitely appeared to breathe a sigh of reduction at full-time.
England’s different group opponents had been in motion the next night in Southampton, as Norway confronted Euros debutants Northern Eire at St Mary’s.