If some felt England had been underwhelming in their opening game win against Austria, it would be fair to say that in their second clash, the Lionesses roared.
Their 8-0 demolition of Norway at the Amex Stadium on Monday did more than just extend the longest unbeaten run in their history. It made a statement that England are ready to challenge for the Women’s Euros on their own turf.
When they went seven ahead, England became the first team in European Championship history – women or men – to score so many in a single game.
Sarina Wiegman has made an immediate impact with the Lionesses since taking charge in September, with the Dutch coach having now won 14 and drawn two of her first 16 outings, scoring a remarkable 93 goals while conceding only three.
There had been some big wins already in the tournament that seemed ominous for the rest, with Spain and Germany hitting four in their opening matches while France became the first team to ever score five goals in the first half of a game at the Women’s Euros when they trounced Italy 5-1 on Sunday.
England beat that record a day later, with a ruthless display seeing them lead 6-0 at the break.
An early penalty from Georgia Stanway after Ellen White had been felled got them going, and from there it seemed like every attack ended up in the Norway net.
Lauren Hemp made it two from close range despite being initially judged offside, before a brace each from Beth Mead and White gave the crowd in Brighton quite a first half to witness.
7 – The Lionesses have become the first side in European Championship history (both men’s & women’s) to score seven goals in a single game. Dreamland. pic.twitter.com/7UzfmOMgPF
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 11, 2022
This was the first Women’s Euros encounter between England and Norway, and it was one Gresshoppene boss Martin Sjogren will want to forget in a hurry.
The visitors stemmed the flow of goals in the second half, although their opponents seemed to use the opportunity to rest their legs.
Wiegman did just that as she took off White, Rachel Daly and the impressive Fran Kirby, who registered two assists, before the hour.
England had another on 65 minutes, though, as Alessia Russo, who replaced White, headed home a Lucy Bronze cross.
Mead completed her hat-trick with nine minutes remaining, tapping home after Guro Pettersen had spilled a Kiera Walsh strike from just outside the box.
Mead, who netted the only goal of the game against Austria, has now been directly involved in 29 goals for England under Wiegman (18 goals, 11 assists), with Hemp nine behind after her goal and assist took her to 20 involvements (eight goals, 12 assists).
The crowd of 28,847 were in their element, with no hostility, no jibes, just support for their team, and the familiar tune of ‘Three Lions’ having more than one vociferous airing.
It would be too simple to put this down to an energised showing because they were in front of their own fans, though. England played some outstanding football and earned their goal bonanza.
They look like a completely different side under Wiegman and dismantled a team only three places below them in the FIFA rankings, having 25 shots in all, hitting the target with an impressive 15.
Norway, ranked 11th in the world, looked like a deer caught in the headlights at times, but the pace and accuracy of the passing and movement was on point from their tormentors throughout.
Qualified for the #WEURO2022 quarter finals pic.twitter.com/X1F8c17Xf8
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 11, 2022
The Lionesses are through to the quarter-finals already as group winners and can afford to rest plenty in their final Group A game against Northern Ireland before returning to Brighton on July 20 for the last-eight clash, likely to be against Germany or Spain.
England went into the tournament as one of the favourites, despite not having won it before. Their improvement under Wiegman coupled with home advantage means they are fancied by many.
Of course, we have been here before with England. Flattering to deceive, raising hopes only to have them extinguished. We all know that England expects, often in vain.
It is too early to say this feels different, but ripping apart a relatively strong opponent in such fashion has to impress even the most stubborn doubter.
Their fans certainly believe, anyway.