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England 5-1 Netherlands: Beth Mead hits second-half brace as Lionesses run riot to send Euro 2022 statement

England 5-1 Netherlands: Beth Mead hits second-half brace as Lionesses run riot to send Euro 2022 statement

E

ngland Women put down a serious marker for this summer’s European Championship on home soil as they swept aside defending champions Netherlands 5-1 at Elland Road.

It was the visitors who took the lead, through Lieke Martens, but Lucy Bronze got the Lionesses level with a cross that flew perfectly into the back of the net.

Sherida Spitse missed a penalty after the break for the Netherlands and that proved the turning point, as Beth Mead, Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp all then found the back of the net as England ran riot, with Mead getting her second of the night in the closing stages.

Up against her home nation, who she led to glory at Euro 2017, Sarina Wiegman saw her adopted country turn on the style and ensure she has still not tasted defeat since taking charge of the Lionesses.

There is just one more warm-up match to go for England, against Switzerland next week, before the serious business begins against Austria on July 6 at Old Trafford.

Supporters in the stadium and watching at home would have been forgiven for any slight confusion when the players walked out as England did their best impression of the Netherlands in a new orange away kit while the visitors returned the favour in a white strip.

England made a confident start and nearly took the lead in fortuitous circumstances, as Hemp charged down a pass from the Dutch goalkeeper only to see the ball roll agonisingly wide of the empty net.

Mary Earps made a superb save to deny Lineth Beerensteyn from close range but was unable to keep the Netherlands opener out midway through the half, as Martens powered home a header from a corner.

The Lionesses were shaky after falling back but composed themselves and levelled things up ten minutes later with a goal even Bronze could not claim was deliberate. Fran Kirby’s ball found Barcelona’s new signing, she drove forward and saw her attempted cross to the back post sail into the far corner.

A chaotic 54 seconds after the break set the tone for the rest of the match. Danielle van de Donk was introduced at half-time and had a swift impact as she was brought down in the box by Alex Greenwood – the referee eventually pointed to the spot after a VAR review. However, on her 200th international appearance, Spitse could only find the outside of the post as her penalty flicked wide.

Sherida Spitse’s missed penalty proved to be a huge turning point

/ Getty Images

Less than a minute later, England were in front. Hemp was set away down the left, she fired a brilliant cross into the six-yard box and Mead was there to provide the finish from a matter of yards.

There was very nearly a carbon copy as Hemp continued to cause all sorts of problems, but Mead could only divert the ball straight at Sari van Veenendaal.

The third goal, and indeed the fourth, did come for England showed a ruthless side with a quickfire double. With just under 20 minutes to go, Toone cut inside into the box and curled an effort to the far corner, where Van Veenendaal made a mess of things to let the shot under her.

She barely had time to replay that in her head before she was picking the ball out of the net again. A sweeping England move set Bronze away, her cut-back found Toone on the edge of the box and she saw her shot bounce back off the post. It was cleared only as far as Hemp, who produced a sublime volley into the top corner. Van Veenendaal could do nothing this time.

England could enjoy every second of the final 15 minutes, knowing that the finest win of the Wiegman era had been secured and another test passed with flying colours ahead of this summer’s main event, and the night was capped off in style as the ball dropped for Mead in the box and she fired low into the bottom corner.

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