England did not take their foot off the gas on Friday evening as they beat Northern Ireland 5-0 in their final Group A match despite having already qualified for the Euro 2022 quarter-finals as group winners.
Head coach Sarina Wiegman was absent on the St Mary’s touchline due to a positive Covid-19 result, leaving assistant Arjun Veurink to oversee the team from the sidelines.
He confirmed that Wiegman is “doing well” following the victory, having been in remote contact with her throughout, but could not give any details on when the Dutchwoman is likely to return to the England camp.
“Sarina is doing well, unfortunately not good enough to be here,” he said. “It’s tough for me to say anything about [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.”
Kenny Shiels’ Northern Ireland side, whose tournament exit was already confirmed, were breached four times in 12 minutes either side of the break as Fran Kirby, Beth Mead and substitute Alessio Russo – twice – struck for the Lionesses, something that particularly pleased Veurink.
“They showed that whatever is going on, we have lots of qualities and that pleased me the most,” he said. “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.
“We brought in five fresh players so that’s good for the team and the development of the players and team as well. Hopefully we can grow with this in the next phase.
“Sarina used the word ‘relentless’ from the start. That’s what we’re doing in this moment really well. When you’re creating a lot of chances, you can miss some as well. We have lots of trust that we will create lots of chances… We’re really pleased with that.”
When asked if England had sent out a message that they are strong contenders to lift their first major trophy this summer, Veurink added: “Of course we want to continue the good showing we’re on at the moment. I think Sarina will be really happy with this performance as well. Momentum is really important.”
Shiels: A massive failure if England don’t win Euros
Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels reiterated again how much ability England have in their squad after another defeat to the Lionesses – their fourth in the space of a year.
While he believes he has two of the best players at the tournament in his squad, he thinks England have the depth of talent to go deep in the competition and potentially even be crowned Euro 2022 champions at the end of July.
“It was always going to be tough for us,” he said. “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 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 that those two – but two isn’t enough to develop those players and help them reach those standards.”
Follow Euro 2022 across Sky Sports
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.
Euro 2022: The groups…
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
Euro 2022: The schedule…
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
Group A: England 8-0 Norway
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