England Women tick right boxes as they build towards World Cup

England Women tick right boxes as they build towards World Cup

updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:30 PM
England beat Brazil at Wembley to win the inaugural Women's Finalissima
England beat Brazil at Wembley to win the inaugural Women's Finalissima. Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP
Source: AFP

Serena Wiegman's England are ticking all the right boxes as they build towards the Women's World Cup later this year, adding the Finalissima title to their European crown.

The Lionesses recovered from conceding a late equaliser against Brazil at Wembley on Thursday to beat the South American side 4-2 on penalties in front of an ecstatic crowd.

With just over three months until the World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand, England are now unbeaten in 30 matches under Wiegman, who has not tasted defeat since taking over as head coach in September 2021.

The 53-year-old Dutch coach praised her side's toughness in front of more than 83,000 fans at the national stadium.

"I think the team did really well by just showing resilience -- so that was done," she said.

"We were moving forwards. We had to do a job and take the penalties as good as possible, or stop them as good as possible, and that's what we did."

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She added: "Of course, you practise it and try to get as close as possible to a real game, but it can't get more real than this. So I think that really helps. Every experience will help you to move forward."

England beat Germany in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley -- when Chloe Kelly scored a famous winner in extra time after the Lionesses had conceded an equaliser in normal time.

"Last year we had some hard moments too and the team really showed that we can do it so that was evidence-based," said Wiegman. "But we hadn't had a shoot-out yet in an environment like this."

The Lionesses dominated the first half at Wembley and took the lead through Ella Toone's 23rd-minute finish, seemingly coasting towards an easy victory against the Copa America Femenina winners.

But Brazil were transformed after the break and eventually got the reward they deserved when substitute Andressa Alves fired home after England goalkeeper Mary Earps fumbled a cross.

That set the stage for the penalties and England held their nerve, despite Toone's miss, with Earps atoning for her earlier mistake by making a stunning save.

Wiegman said it was important that her team, fourth in the FIFA rankings, had faced a searching examination during the first-ever Women's Finalissima, the meeting of the champions of Europe and South America.

"We were really challenged," she said. "And that's what we needed, to be aware of those moments and how can we do better."

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes said the Lionesses were entitled to feel proud of themselves.

"Throughout the 90 minutes we watched two sides of England," she told ITV. "It was the perfect time for them to be exposed in the areas they need to work at."

Hayes said the match "tested England maybe more so than any other game since the Euros and they have come through that with flying colours".

England host Australia next week as they continue their build-up towards the World Cup, where they will be among the favourites to lift the trophy.

They open their campaign against Haiti in Brisbane on July 22.

AFP photo