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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

Russo gives Lionesses lead but Euro defence starts with a whimper as they draw 1-1 with Sweden at Wembley

England v Sweden Picture by Paul Lagan
England v Sweden Picture by Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

England 1 v Sweden 1


If you can't win, don't lose is the perceived wisdom in football, and England's defence of their Euro title was one where a draw has to be deemed a good result – The Lionesses and Sweden fought out a 1-1 nip and tuck encounter at Wembley tonight.

A first half goal from Alessia Russo gave the vast majority of the 63,248 crowd something to cheer but the home side were culpable by losing concentration in the second half allowing danger woman Fridolina Rolfo an almost identical equaliser.

Sweden put the Lionesses under pressure from the off – Stina Blackstenius, fresh from her Conti Cup win for Arsenal, almost got a close-range shot away on two minutes. But Lucy Bronze managed to block the effort.

Alessia Russo took a hefty challenge from ex-Chelsea defender Magda Eriksson on four minutes.

She received treatment for the best part of three minutes before she walked off the pitch to allow for more treatment and for the game to get going again.

The Arsenal striker returned after three more minutes.

Sweden's heavy-handed tactics were clear in evidence the opening exchanges.

A poor pas by Keira Walsh allowed Sweden to take a transition, as it's called nowadays, and a quick counter attack saw Fridolina Rolfo take an early shot, but the ball, while going wide of Mary Earps, also went wide of the England goal.

With England's firth attack worthy of it's name they scored on 25 minutes.

Chelsea's Lauren James, who started the match on the left, had switched side. In customary style, the wide player took a couple of touches as she got close to the Sweden penalty area. Then she produced a world-class chip clipped right-footer that dropped like a sixpence central in the six-yard box and Russo was on hand to nod home with a diving header.

England still looked vulnerable to the counter and it was Fillipa Angeldal's turn to have a run and shot. Thankfully for Earps, the ball was high and over the crossbar.

There were no changes for |England at half-time.

It was an innocuous start to the second half and Wiegman opted to bring on Ella Toone for out of sorts Grace Clinton.

England were mugged in much he same was Sweden were when they lost the lead on 65 minutes. A simple chip from substitute Sofia Kafaji, on the pitch only for a matter of minutes, and at the back stick was Rolfo who gleefully nodded home.

It should have been another goal when Blackstenius broke free. Earps opted to stay back allowing the striker free reign on goal, but her shot, a left-footer, was wide of goal and the home side had a major let off.

Wiegman then replace James for the more energetic Beth Mead on 67 minutes.

With the clock ticking away and little progression in the attacking front, Wiegman decided to bring on defender Jess Carter and winger Chloe Kelly – off went Russo and Chelsea's Niamh Charles.

England almost snatched a winner with minutes left, twice Hemp had shots on goal, - first Jennifer Falk blocked her shot, the follow-up was cleared off the line by Eriksson. Mead then had a shot locked as the Lionesses found a little bit of late energy, while Sweden were content to take the point, and they did.

Teams: England: Earps, Bronze, Charles, Walsh, Wubben-Moy, Greenwood, James, Stanway, Russo, Clinton, Hemp

Subs: Hampton, Rendell, Carter, Toone, Williamson, Kelly, Mead, Kirby, Daly, Park, Morgan, Turner

Sweden: Falk, Andersson, Sembrant, Lundkvist, Eriksson, Asllani, Blackstenius, Zigotti Olme, Angeldal, Rolfo, Rytting Kaneryd

Subs: Musovic, Enblom, Nilden, Janogy, Vinberb, Jakobbson, Kullberg, Kafaji, Anvegard, Bennison, Rybrink, Rubensson

Referee: Ivana Projkovska (MKD - North Macedonia)


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