England 2 USA 1
England made a powerful case that they can win next summer’s Women’s World Cup as they beat back-to-back world champions the United States in a rousing friendly in front of 76,893 fans at Wembley.
However, head coach Sarina Wiegman was keen to stress her team still have hard work to do ahead of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
Still full of confidence after July’s historic Euro 2022 triumph and now targeting a first global title, the Lionesses earned their first victory over the world’s top side in more than five-and-a-half years since 2017’s SheBelieves Cup, with Lauren Hemp’s early goal and Georgia Stanway’s penalty helping them continue their relentless winning form.
The result extended former Holland head coach Wiegman’s formidable unbeaten run since taking charge of England 13 months ago to an impressive 23 matches, including 21 victories, but this was the toughest opposition her ever-improving team have faced in her tenure so far.
Wiegman agreed the match was a "good measure" of where her team are, 10 months away from the World Cup, amid a 15-game winning streak that has now included wins over the world's top sides.
She added: “You are the best team in the world when you have won the World Cup. We didn’t. We are in a good place. There are so many good countries. We have done well but we have to keep doing that."
Not all games between two heavyweights of the sport always live up to the pre-match hype but this clash between the world's No 1 and No 4-ranked teams did not disappoint, as both sides delivered a highly entertaining affair that will have whet the appetite for next summer's tournament.
For the visitors, the game was being played amidst the hugely contrasting backdrop of a horrifying abuse scandal back home in their domestic league, the NWSL, about which a report was released on Monday which concluded there has been a "systemic" culture of abuse and harassment in the sport in the USA. The year-long investigation found that evidence from whistle-blowers had been ignored for years.
Speaking on Thursday, influential, veteran winger and former Ballon d'Or winner Megan Rapinoe had said the US team were "emotionally exhausted" by the situation but used to overcoming adversity. England's squad were keen to show their support to the victims and stand in solidarity with the US and that saw both squads hold up a banner reading "protect the players", in a powerful moment of unity.
That respectful collaboration was quickly matched by intensely high-paced competition on the field as the game began at a fairly electric pace, in what turned into an absorbing first half that was of the standard you would expect of a meeting between the European champions and the world champions.
Amidst an injury to central striker Alessia Russo, Wiegman opted to play Manchester City winger Lauren Hemp through the middle instead of out wide, much to many fans’ surprise, but it turned out to be something of a masterstroke as the 22-year-old opened the scoring with a classic poacher’s goal, latching onto a superbly-weighted cross from Beth Mead after a neat, quick-paced move down England’s right.
Both teams were trying to play aesthetically-pleasing football on the floor but England were punished for a sloppy moment when they were trying to pass they ball out from their own penalty area as Stanway was robbed on the edge of the box and emerging US star Sophia Smith rifled in a confident finish to level things at 1-1.
But Stanway soon made amends as she calmly placed home from the penalty after a Var check confirmed Lucy Bronze had taken a high foot to the head inside the USA penalty area.
The four-time World Cup winners thought they had equalised again with a flowing counter attack, including a clever backheel from Rapinoe to young star Trinity Rodman, but another Var check determined Smith had been offside by centimetres in the build-up.
OL Reign icon Rapinoe, who was the global star of the 2019 World Cup, was booed by many England fans at Wembley, a ground where she helped her country win Olympic gold 10 years ago at London 2012.
On that day there were more than 80,000 people in attendance at this stadium, but Friday's turnout fell just short of that, despite this match officially selling out in under 23 hours.
Vlatko Andonovski's side were wasteful in front of goal, spurning several good chances, in a game which could quite conceivably have ended 4-4 or in an ever higher-scoring manner. Barcelona's Bronze also fired into the side-netting for the hosts.
Inevitably, having beaten the team that have reached three consecutive World Cup finals, expectations will now sky-rocket for this England side and many will tout them as favourites for July and August's World Cup. but Wiegman, with her feet on the ground as ever, added: "You don't win the World Cup now - it's October, not July."
England (4-3-3): Earps 6; Bronze 8, Bright 7, Greenwood 7, Daly 6; Stanway 8, Walsh 8, KIrby 7 (Toone 7, 68); Mead 7, Hemp 7, Kelly 6 (James 6, 90+1)
Subs not used: Morgan, Roebuck (gk), Zelem, Wubben-Moy, Carter, Parris, Park, Stokes, MacIver (gk), Salmon
Yellow cards: Bright
USA (4-3-3): Naeher 6; Huerta 6 (Dunn 7, 63), Cook 7, Girma 6 (Sauerbrunn 6, 83), Fox 6 (Mace 7, 22); Sullivan 6 (Coffey, 63), Horan 7, Lavelle 8; Smith 8, Rodman 8 (Sanchez 6, 83), Rapinoe 7 (Thompson 6, 83)
Subs not used: Hatch, Murphy (gk), Howell, Kingsbury (gk), Mewis, DeMelo
Yellow cards: Mace, Rodman
Referee: Riem Hussein (Germany)
England 2 USA 1 – as it happened:
That's all for this evening, thanks very much for joining us
Tom Garry's match report will be in above and we'll have colour from Molly McElwee.
We'll be back with plenty of Premier League coverage this weekend. Keep tabs on all of that here. Goodnight!
Comments from Vlatko Andonovski, USA's head coach
[On using this game to help prepare for the World Cup]
We came here to experience adversity and a hostile environment - we got that.
[On the 'protect the players' banner that was held by both squads pre-match]
It was a very special moment when the players came together and held the banner. It gave me goosebumps. It was a statement.
Reaction from Molly McElwee and Tom Garry at Wembley
'That's going to really send out a message ahead of next summer's World Cup'@Molly_McElwee and @TomJGarry give their reactions to England beating the USA at Wembley. 🏟️#TelegraphWomensSport pic.twitter.com/GtAAkArwnG
— Telegraph Women’s Sport (@WomensSport) October 7, 2022
Goalscorer Lauren Hemp speaks with ITV Sport
I thought we did really well, especially in the first half. We created a lot of chances and were fantastic off the ball as well. We all put in a shift today and it was a great result. Important we stay grounded now, another game on Tuesday and we're looking forward to that.
[And on playing in that No 9 role]: I think most of the time I don't know what I'm doing! I had a free role to roam where I wanted, I was in the right place at the right time. I'm happy with any goal.
Worth looking at Hemp's opener again
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) October 7, 2022
Sarina Wiegman speaks with ITV Sport
That was really intense, just what we wanted . USA played as we expected, they gave us some hard times which is normal as they are really good. I think first half we were better that the second half. It was a great game.
We said before this game, whatever happens, we know this is just one stage, a starting point to get in position for the World Cup.
We played with a lot of space in our back and we know that the USA are very quick. We didn't choose to just drop back. We just wanted to play a game with the high press. It's something that we will review and see if we can do that better.
Full time: England 2 USA 1
England have beaten the world champions in this prestigious friendly in front of a 76,893-strong crowd at Wembley. The Lionesses continue their unbeaten run under Sarina Wiegman that now stretches to 23 games.
Hemp put the hosts ahead, but Smith equalised in the 28th minute, the USA's high press paying dividends.
Mace's boot in Bronze's face gave England a penalty which Stanway duly converted.
USA will be disappointed with an offside VAR decision shortly before half time that saw Rodman's goal disallowed.
90+2 mins: England 2 USA 1
Ball drops for Smith, headed down from Bright after the ball is sent in from deep on the right after James is caught in possession. Smith blasts it over.
90 mins: England 2 USA 1
Three minutes of added time to come.
90 mins: England 2 USA 1
England looking patient and precise in attack. Walsh floats a ball into the box, but USA head it away.
A diagonal ball is played in by Bronze from deep. looking for Toone on the left-side of the box. She takes the shot on, but it's well over. She's scored those before, but didn't time that one right.
88 mins: England 2 USA 1
Toone is played into the USA box, but she slips on the turf... she's not the only one tonight. Evidently a more slippery surface than they were expecting after this evening's rain in London.
87 mins: England 2 USA 1
Stanway, to Toone, which is returned. The Bayern Munich midfielder takes a touch to tee herself up and fires towards goal. Wide.
86 mins: England 2 USA 1
Smith whips one into the box after England lose the ball again, caught in possession... but Earps is alert to that and gathers.
81 mins: England 2 USA 1
USA think they have a penalty for a handball from Lavelle's shot following the corner... but the replay clearly shows that the ball hit Hemp's backside, not her arms. VAR overrules the ref's initial penalty ruling.
78 mins: England 2 USA 1
Bright stands up well to deflect Smith's cross out for a corner.
Rapinoe sends it in to the middle. There's a mix up in the USA ranks and Hemp is able to take advantage, bolting up the pitch. She plays in Mead to her right, but she misses her opportunity with a heavy touch.
77 mins: England 2 USA 1
We're hearing from the ITV commentary that the official attendance tonight is 76,893.
75 mins: England 2 USA 1
Stanway works into space, cutting onto her left foot on the edge of the box and letting rip.
It looks like her touch to send it onto her left – and buy her some space – was a little heavy as the ball ended up flying almost off the outside of her boot, send it wide.
73 mins: England 2 USA 1
Girma with a solid tackle to stop Hemp from getting one-on-one with Naeher.
The ball was played in over the top and it looked like Hemp would have her for pace, Impressive play from the San Diego Wave centre-half.
69 mins: England 2 USA 1
A fabulous challenge by Daly, last ditch on Rodman who would've otherwise been through on goal. That had to be perfectly-timed. Daly does enough to push it out of Rodman's feet and allow enough white shirts to get back. Rapinoe gets the ball and shoots, but that's wide.
68 mins: England sub
Ella Toone, the scorer of England's opener in the Euros final, comes on for Fran Kirby.
This from Tom Garry:
Huge, huge cheer for Manchester United playmaker Ella Toone as she comes on off the bench. I guess that's the reception you're going to get when you've scored a goal in a major final for your country!
67 mins: England 2 USA 1
Free kick against England for a shirt pull by Kelly on Lavelle.
Interesting position this. It's on the right, 30 yards out.
Rapinoe floats it in, an awkward one for the England defence to deal with. Rodman picks it up, works into the middle of the box and pulls the trigger. High and wide in the end.
64 mins: England 2 USA 1
USA corner, headed away well by Bright. England push out rapidly and force the US to go all the way back to Naeher.
62 mins: England 2 USA 1
Lavelle loses control of the ball entirely. Such a heavy touch there, unlucky for her as she was right on the edge of the area, winding up to shoot. Let off for England who are under quite a bit of pressure here.
60 mins: England 2 USA 1
Horan finds Rapinoe in the box from the left channel, Rapinoe in open space – she should be picked up there. She takes a shot, getting plenty behind it, but it's well-blocked. Out for a corner.
57 mins: England 2 USA 1
Horan floats one in toward Rapinoe in who is on the edge of the six-yard box, but she's crowded out and Earps gathers.
Both teams are losing the ball quite easily, a lot of mistakes in possession. It makes the game an exciting watch, but both managers will want to see this tightened up.
55 mins: England 2 USA 1
Bronze with a big effort that hits the side netting.
Some lovely play from Hemp, winning the ball off Huerta from a high press. She charges towards goal from the left and pulls the ball back across the box, plenty of white shirts arriving and it finds Bronze who hits first time, with venom, rippling only the side netting though.
53 mins: England 2 USA 1
Kelly goes for goal from outside the box, spotting lots of space ahead of her after cutting in from the left and taking the shot on with her right foot. No curl at all on it though and it's pretty wide in the end.
52 mins: England 2 USA 1
Rapinoe with a rare missed touch there. England throw in their own third.
51 mins: England 2 USA 1
England taking their time in possession here, waiting to see where the pockets open up.
Mead is penalised for blocking Mace from getting near the ball going through to Bronze, switched from deep to the right flank. USA free kick.
49 mins: England 2 USA 1
Hemp runs straight at the USA defence, winning the ball with strength in the centre circle. She charges to the US box and plays in Mead to her right – but she's caught offside.
47 mins: England 2 USA 1
Bright tries to clear a ball long to Hemp on the halfway line. Overcooked though. Out for a US throw.
The USA come forward now, Bronze sucked in allowing Smith to be played in, edge of the box. She takes a shot, but it's wide.
Kicks off. England get us back under way.
The goal that never was...
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) October 7, 2022
Millie Bright was carded for a foul on Smith in the centre-circle
Smith would've been away towards Earps otherwise.
More from Tom Garry here
Around 150 former England women's players of the 70s, 80s and 90s are now walking around the pitch being recognised, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the first official England Women's fixture (18 November), a 3-2 win against Scotland in front of just a few hundred people.
Half time: England 2 USA 1
It's been a thrilling first half at Wembley, the match living well up to the hype.
England lead courtesy of Stanway's penalty on 33 minutes, but the USA will feel hard done by after Rodman's goal was chalked off for offside after a marginal call from VAR after a lengthy check. Hopefully we'll get to see another angle on that.
45 mins: England 2 USA 1
Three minutes of added time to come.
44 mins: England 2 USA 1
Smith looks to get away on the counter and Bright hacks her down in the centre-circle. Free kick USA – and a yellow card for Bright.
Tom Garry at Wembley
We're being dealt the kind of game everyone hoped this contest would produce but perhaps you're never really sure if it'll live up to the pre-match hype. It's been a belter so far. And we should have expected it – England are on a 14-game winning streak, the USA a 13-match winning run.
If this is a pre-cursor to next summer's World Cup, everybody is in for a treat.
41 mins: England 2 USA 1
Stanway from range!
Blocked, back to her and she moves it wide to Bronze, entirely unmarked, to put in a cross to the far post. USA get back and Huerta kicks it behind for an England corner.
DISALLOWED GOAL AFTER VAR CHECK RULES OFFSIDE: England 2 USA 1
USA carve England open.
A big ball played in over the top to Smith, who makes a charging run straight at the England back line, dribbling with such confidence. She pulls it across to Rapinoe who flicks it on to Rodman behind her to slot home.
A few minutes for a VAR check and it's chalked off. Reprieve for England.
It takes a while for VAR to show us the picture, but Smith was marginally off when the ball was played up to her from Huerta in the right back position.
35 mins: England 2 USA 1 (Stanway, 32)
Bronze tries to play Mead in down the right, but Mace comes out strong with a sliding tackle to sniff that out before England could get another cross into the box.
GOAL: England 2 USA 1 (Stanway, 32)
Stanway to take the penalty...
And she slots it home, passed into the right corner. England are back in front!
31 mins: England 1 USA 1
It follows a VAR check, Mace given yellow for a boot in Bronze's face in the USA box.
30 mins: England 1 USA 1
Bright with a good interception in her own box to stop USA's final pass from Lavelle in its tracks.
GOAL! England 1 USA 1 (Smith, 28)
England have been playing a somewhat risky game out the back – and it's come to bite them.
Stanway is overwhelmed as the ball is played to her out the back, Horan all over her. Horan wins out and she plays in Smith who thumps it past Earps.
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) October 7, 2022
24 mins: England 1 USA 0
Mead finds Kirby over the top, down the right channel with a superb long ball. USA put it out for a throw.
Kelly is lurking in the box, it's sent in to her, but it's a bit too far. She closes down Naeher who can only smash it clear back into England's possession.
23 mins: England 1 USA 0
USA have been outclassed by England so far. The Lionesses are looking so sharp on the attack. Their opponents, the world champions let us not forget, have looked sluggish in comparison.
21 mins: USA sub
Fox is off, Mace comes on.
20 mins: England 1 USA 0
Stanway has overpowered Fox, smashing into her. No foul. Fox has gone down and is receiving some treatment.
Tom Garry from Wembley
The pace all across the England front three is simply electrifying. They're so dangerous.
14 mins: England 1 USA 0
Rapinoe hits that straight into the wall into Hemp's face.
Rapinoe to take the corner. Hangs it towards the back post. Cook gets her head on it, but it's behind for a goal kick.
14 mins: England 1 USA 0
Free kick to USA, right on the edge of the England area.
Daly pulls down Smith as the USA players comes in hard on her.
Rapinoe to take.
12 mins: England 1 USA 0
Bronze pushes into the US' box now, down the right side.
Rapinoe tries to gather and get the ball out of the USA's third, but England starve her of option and regain possession.
11 mins: England 1 USA 0
Hemp tries to pull one across from the wide-left, England playing with confidence after that goal. It's deflected out for a throw.
GOAL! England 1 USA 0 (Hemp, 9)
Lauren Hemp puts England ahead!
It's a terrific darting run by Mead up the right hand side, she puts a ground ball into the mixer, Cook makes a meal over clearing it, and Hemp is there to pounce and put it past Naeher.
8 mins: England 0 USA 0
Huerta, from the far-right of the box, stands one up into the England box, but it's headed away convincingly by Bronze.
Here's that banner both teams were holding before kick off
5 mins: England 0 USA 0
Smith lays up Horan, but it's chocka in the England box and she's crowded out. England try to break quickly but they don't have the numbers up the pitch to make anything of it.
4 mins: England 0 USA 0
Stanway makes a surge up from midfield, from the halfway line, she gets to the edge of the box and tees up Mead who she sees has made the run in behind here.
Mead takes the shot on, from outside the box, but it's straight at Naeher.
3 mins: England 0 USA 0
Earps launches one up the pitch after a high press from USA which makes the Lionesses look a bit shaky at the back.
2 mins: England 0 USA 0
Smith makes a surging run down the left channel, finding lots of space, cutting into the England box and taking a shot on. Comfortable save by Earps there.
USA, in blue, get us under way.
The Lionesses are, of course, in white.
A moment of silence
In memory of those who died at the Kanjuruhan stadium in Indonesia last weekend.
Anthems, and then the players stand in unison
They hold a banner: "Protect the Players", in the reference to the release of the report finding that sexual misconduct and emotional abuse were 'systemic' in America's NWSL.
They are also all wearing teal armbands tonight.
The teams are heading out the tunnel at Wembley
This from Tom Garry:
We're now hearing from multiple sources that it will be Man City winger Lauren Hemp playing through the middle for England tonight as number nine. That'd be unexpected, but could that be a Sarina Wiegman tactical masterclass? Let's see.
Megan Rapinoe has described the abuse scandal that has rocked football in the United States as "horrifying"
She said on Thursday:
It's horrifying. Even when you know it, it's just horrifying over and over to read.
It's been difficult for the players. Some of those players play in those clubs, have been coached by those coaches, likely have been abused in one form or another by some of those coaches or in some of those environments, or different environments, youth environments, whatever it may be.
It can definitely be re-triggering or re-traumatising, and just to have to deal with that on such an incredible occasion, to be here at Wembley and be able to participate in this game, which is so exciting, the juxtaposition is just kind of ridiculous.
We are angry and exhausted, and together and unified.
It's nice to be here together as a team, I feel like it's really powerful for us all to be together as a national team, and be able to speak on behalf of all of us.
Megan Rapinoe speaks with ITV Sport
I think it's a huge game. There's something a little bit extra on this game it seems. It doesn't get much bigger than this.
[On England's success in the summer]: I think the way they grew into the tournament. They basically galvanised the whole country, and now they're here.
She makes her 195th appearance tonight.
Tom Garry looks into how England's Lionesses closed the gap on the all-conquering USA
The world champions are in town tonight but it is England, not the formidable USA, who are the bookies' favourites for this friendly.
In the women's game, that fact in itself feels entirely against the odds, but it is symbolic of the Lionesses' relatively recent surge in the sport.
Sarina Wiegman speaks with ITV Sport before the match
We had some options, but we thought this was the best starting line up for this game.
[On missing captain Leah Williamson tonight]: I think in this team we have lots of leaders, lots of personalities. I think we can solve this.
Of course it's great, the best test we can have. We have this occasion, at the very highest level.
TV coverage begins at 7:30pm
This will be on ITV 1 tonight.
The Women’s World Cup will be heading Down Under next year as the Fifa showpiece returns for its ninth edition
The tournament will be bigger and better than ever before with the number of teams included set to be expanded from 24 (in 2019) to 32 for the first time, a reflection of the surge in popularity and growth that the women’s game is enjoying.
In another first, the 2023 tournament will be the first jointly hosted competition across two nations, New Zealand and Australia, and takes place from July 20 to August 20, 2023.
Read all about the tournament – and more – here.
Tom Garry on England's starting XI
The absence of injured England captain Leah Williamson was always going to be a blow to England's defence – in her place, though, is a more-than-able replacement in Manchester City's Alex Greenwood, who is in good form, and her switch from left-back to left centre-half means that Rachel Daly will be at left-back, where she played during the Euros. Daly has been starring as a central striker for Aston Villa but Sarina Wiegman seems to see her as a full-back predominantly.
The other big decision for Wiegman was who would start up front in place of injured striker Alessia Russo. Beth Mead, Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly have got the nod as the front three tonight, so that would suggest we might see Arsenal's Mead play as the central striker, a role she thrived in at her former club Sunderland.
USA's starting XI
USA: Naeher, Cook, Rodman, Huerta, Horan (captain), Smith, Girma, Rapinoe, Lavelle, Sullivan, Fox.
Subs: Sanchez, Sauerbrunn, Mace, Hatch, Thompson, Coffey, Murphy, Dunn, Howell, Kingsbury, Mewis, DeMelo.
Team news! England's starting XI
England: Earps, Bronze, Daly, Walsh, Bright (captain), Greenwood, Mead, Stanway, Hemp, Kirby, Kelly.
Subs: Moran, Roebuck, Zelem, Wubben-Moy, Carter, Parris, Toone, Park, Stokes, Maciver, James, Salmon.
Telegraph Sport's Tom Garry is at Wembley this evening
It's pouring down with rain here at Wembley but that is doing little to dampen the atmosphere, which is one of bubbling excitement amongst the hordes of supporters making their way towards the stadium.
This match sold out in just 23 hours, a remarkably fast rate for any friendly, let alone one with a capacity like Wembley's.
On the one hand, big crowds are no new thing in the women's game – whether the example that comes to your mind is the USA's 90,185-strong crowd for the 1999 World Cup final at the Rose Bowl, Barcelona selling out the Camp Nou twice last season, or Wembley being packed for July's Euros final – but nonetheless this still remains a rare and special occasion for this fast-growing sport
The new champions of Europe take on the perennially successful world champions tonight in a clash of star-studded squads at a sold-out Wembley.
It's "only" an international friendly, but there is far more riding on this given England's success in the summer. With the World Cup less than a year away, England will want to prove a point – the US knocked them out of the last World Cup in 2019 with a 2-1 margin of victory in Lyon.
The US are the most-successful national team having won the World Cup four times, including the inaugural tournament in 1991, and the last two in 2015 and 2019. They've also won half of the eight Olympic Games they've taken part in.
England, in contrast, only have this summer's European Championship in the trophy cabinet, but they're the rising star of the women's game.
Overshadowing tonight's game, however, are the revelations contained within an independent report released on Monday which showed abuse and misconduct "had become systemic" in the American top-flight and that the league, teams and governing body US Soccer failed to adequately protect players.
Players will come together this evening to show their support for the victims of the abuse sandal, taking to the field wearing teal armbands.
Lionesses forward Beth Mead said of the report on Thursday: "When I found out, I was sickened by the situation. It's a worldwide problem but women need to be taken seriously. (I'm) very proud of the victims that actually stood up and said it.
"People need to start doing better, the US governing body needs to be doing better, worldwide we need to be doing better."
England head coach Sarina Wiegman said that Millie Bright would captain the side due to the injury absence of fellow defender Leah Williamson. She echoed Mead's comments about abuse in women's sport being a worldwide issue.
"My first reaction is that it is horrible, unacceptable that it's still happening and I feel very, very sorry for all of the victims," said the Dutch coach.
"It should stop immediately of course, we all agree on that.
"This problem in the USA, I think it's a worldwide problem still and it's just really the time now that we all step up and stop these things. Whatever abuse it is, it's just horrible and really unacceptable."