Northern Ireland Women vs England Women. Women's European Championship Group A.
St. Mary's StadiumAttendance30,785.
Report as Fran Kirby and Beth Mead score late in the first half, breaching Northern Ireland's stubborn defence; Mead remains the top scorer at Euro 2022 with five goals; Alessia Russo scored twice after half-time to see England finish with a perfect Group A record
Saturday 16 July 2022 09:47, UK
Alessia Russo's second-half double saw England ease past Northern Ireland 5-0 in their final group game of Euro 2022 at St Mary's.
The Lionesses were without their manager Sarina Wiegman after the coach tested positive for Covid-19 earlier on Friday, but it seemed to do little to dampen a rampant Lionesses team.
There was early drama too at a sunny St Mary's when England were awarded a penalty inside five minutes. Georgia Stanway's shot hit Laura Rafferty on the arm, with the referee immediately pointing to the spot. However, after a lengthy VAR review and the official consulting the monitor, the penalty was rightly ruled out.
For 40 minutes, it looked like Northern Ireland were in situ to frustrate their rivals, with England being wasteful with chances. Lauren Wade looked like a lethal outlet for Kenny Shiels' side, firing into the side of the net in the first half, but never truly threatened Mary Earps' goal.
Fran Kirby finally breached the Northern Ireland defence with five minutes of the first half to play, curling a superb effort home from the top of the area after Northern Ireland failed to clear their lines.
Beth Mead quickly followed up with her fifth goal of Euro 2022, making her the Golden Boot leader so far. She fired a low, hard shot at the near post, with the ball taking a nick off a sliding Rachel Furness. It saw her goalkeeper, Jackie Burns, wrong-footed as England nabbed their second.
Russo came on at half-time, along with Ella Toone and Alex Greenwood, and it took just three minutes for her to score her second goal of the tournament. She did well to rise up between the defenders to nod home Mead's cross as the winger added an assist to her evening's work.
Just five minutes later, Russo nabbed her second goal and England's fourth of the game. It was perhaps the goal of the match too, picking up a fizzed cross from Manchester United team-mate Toone, before again getting the better of the defenders, She then hammered a shot past Burns, roaring her approval with her celebration.
Northern Ireland's difficult evening was capped off with an unfortunate own goal from Rafferty in the 76th minute. Her attempt to stop Mead's cross from finding Chloe Kelly did not go to plan as she turned the ball past her own goalkeeper.
It was not the ending Shiels or Northern Ireland will have wanted to their Euro 2022 journey, but the team were still given a rousing reception by their fans at full-time. For England, they finish Group A with a 100 per cent record and will now being preparations for their quarter-final on Wednesday evening.
Another win and another clean sheet for England but what are the takeaways heading into the quarter-finals of the Euros?
The Sky Sports Women's Euros podcast is back after the completion of Group A, with Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui are joined by Sky Sports News' Paul Gilmour to discuss England's win against Northern Ireland in the final Group A game of Euro 2022.
The trio take a look at how the Lionesses fared without Sarina Wiegman, after the coach was left out due to Covid, and how it might impact quarter-final preparations. We also hear from captain Leah Williamson on how the squad have adapted.
Plus, a look at some of the players who starred for both sides at St Mary's - including Alessia Russo - and Paul discusses where Northern Ireland go from here after their first major tournament.
England assistant coach Arjun Veurink:
"Sarina is doing well, unfortunately not good enough to be here. It's tough for me to say anything about that [whether she will be back for the quarter-final]. She will not be joining us live, but as Covid has taught us, we can do a lot remotely as well. Hopefully she will be with the team as soon as possible.
"As we all know, Sarina is well-prepared for all scenarios, so we spoke about it. It's the world we live in at the moment, we were prepared and spoke to individual staff members too.
"What I think Sarina does really well is managing the staff, this day is to get them going and back to bunnies as usual. She is in a different space from the group but most of the staff were prepared well already.
"That's a good part nowadays, there are ways to get in contact. She had contact with the technical staff so she had her influence on the game as well. There were lots of things we spoke about before the game, about most of the scenarios during the game so it was really good.
"The team performance [pleased me most]. They showed that whatever is going on, we have lots of qualities and that pleased me the most. We were calm and relaxed. It's not great that Sarina is not here, but they reacted really well and I'm happy with the team performance and the great goals we scored."
Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels:
"It was always going to be tough for us. I don't know if everybody realises, but England haven't conceded a goal in the last three years of 'proper football' with the Euros and the World Cup [qualifiers].
"We've been beaten by them four times… at an average of 4-0 or 5-0. But they're averaging over the period 9-0s and haven't conceded a goal. That's how much further up the ladder they are from us.
"I thought our organisation tonight was excellent, we put them into a position of nullification. They got a deflected goal, then another. They were the better team obviously and I was proud of the players and how they adapted to how we set up.
"They were fantastic, they gave everything and I must say, I was really impressed with how we stuck to our task. We created a few chances, or half chances, and that reflected on us. We didn't play out as much as we would have done normally because they're too good for us.
"It would be a massive failure if they didn't win this tournament because they're home and hosed. Everybody else should just go home.
"If you were picking a team as from now, from what we've seen, Northern Ireland have the best left-back in Demi Vance and the best centre-back in Sarah McFadden.
"There's nobody better in the tournament than those two - but two isn't enough to develop those players and help them reach those standards."
England will be back in action on Wednesday when they face either Spain or Denmark in their quarter-final clash at the Amex; kick-off 8pm.
Northern Ireland will next play in September when they take on Luxembourg and Latvia in their World Cup Qualifiers.
Keep up with all the latest from Euro 2022 across Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will give analysis throughout the tournament.
They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
The pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women's Euro 2022 Mobile Presentation Bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where matches are being played.
In addition, Sky Sports' Essential Football Podcast will be rebranded for the tournament to Sky Sports Women's Euros Podcast from 21 June. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a strong programme line-up around the tournament.
Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland
Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland
Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland
Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland
Wednesday July 6
Group A: England 1-0 Austria
Thursday July 7
Group A: Norway 4-1 Northern Ireland
Friday July 8
Group B: Spain 4-1 Finland
Group B: Germany 4-0 Denmark
Saturday July 9
Group C: Portugal 2-2 Switzerland
Group C: Netherlands 1-1 Sweden
Sunday July 10
Group D: Belgium 1-1 Iceland
Group D: France 5-1 Italy
Monday July 11
Group A: Austria 2-0 Northern Ireland
Tuesday July 12
Group B: Denmark 1-0 Finland
Group B: Germany 2-0 Spain
Wednesday July 13
Group C: Sweden 2-1 Switzerland
Group C: Netherlands 3-2 Portugal
Thursday July 14
Group D: Italy 1-1 Iceland
Group D: France 2-1 Belgium
Friday July 15
Group A: Northern Ireland 0-5 England
Group A: Austria 1-0 Norway
Saturday July 16
Group B: Finland vs Germany - kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Denmark vs Spain - kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Sunday July 17
Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands - kick-off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Sweden vs Portugal - kick-off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Monday July 18
Group D: Iceland vs France - kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Group D: Italy vs Belgium - kick-off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Wednesday July 20
Quarter-final 1: England vs Runners-up Group B - kick-off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Thursday July 21
Quarter-final 2: Germany vs Austria - kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Friday July 22
Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D - kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Quarter-final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C - kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Tuesday July 26
Semi-final 1: Winners quarter-final 1 v Winners quarter-final 3 - kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-final 2: Winners quarter-final 2 v Winners quarter-final 4 - kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Sunday July 31
Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 - kick-off 5pm, Wembley