Euro 2022: England boss Sarina Wiegman says ‘they can do better’ but important to start with win
England boss Sarina Wiegman said “it was so important” to start Euro 2022 with a victory as the hosts beat Austria 1-0.
Beth Mead scored the only goal in front of a tournament record 68,871 at Old Trafford.
“The first game in a tournament, it’s so important to win and have a good start,” Wiegman told BBC Sport.
“We have shown different phases – some good, some not so good. We should have scored more and made it easier.”
England are one of the favourites for the tournament, with Wiegman having won the last Euros in 2017 with the Netherlands.
Asked if nerves were a factor, she added: “It’s hard to say, we wanted to start well. We didn’t keep the ball well enough. We scored a good goal and had some more chances. Overall I’m just happy.
“I’m not frustrated, I just think we can do better. After the first goal we had a huge chance, we have to be a little calmer in the final stage.
“The atmosphere was so incredible. It’s hard to have an influence because the players can’t hear you, but that’s what we want.”
Wiegman hopes England’s opening success will give the team a “boost” for Monday’s tough fixture against Norway, before they face Northern Ireland on 15 July.
But when asked if the performance is a bigger focus in the next game, she added: “A good start helps. It gives good confidence to the team but we play every game to win.”
Former England defender Alex Scott said Wiegman “knows there’s more to come” from her side and it was a “sloppy” performance in patches.
Winger Chloe Kelly said the team were “still building”, but former goalkeeper Karen Bardsley felt they deserved credit for “a job well done”.
“England put the ball in the net and took the points home,” added Bardsley. “They’re on their way and let’s hope there are a lot of congratulations going on – there’s a lot of positive reinforcement for a job well done.
“A lot of the basics could have been better but ultimately Wiegman will be happy to come out on the big occasion with a win.”
Midfielder Georgia Stanway, who was named player of the match, has urged supporters to “bring the noise” for their remaining group fixtures.
“We need that at every single game. Bring the noise, it can rattle the opposition,” she added.
Arsenal forward Mead scored the only goal after 16 minutes when her chip over club team-mate, Austria goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger, was almost cleared by a defender off the crossbar. Goalline technology, though, ruled the shot had crossed the line.
“I was pretty sure [it crossed] but you always doubt yourself when a bit of time passes,” said Mead.
“It’s beyond words. What an amazing night to start the tournament with a win. It was so loud we couldn’t hear what she [Wiegman] was saying [afterwards in a huddle]. We were all into Sweet Caroline.”
England captain Leah Williamson also praised the crowd’s noisy backing.
“What an occasion. The fans came out, we connected well,” she added.
“It was pretty special, I had no idea what to expect. We embraced it really well. I kept my eyes closed during the national anthem. If I’d looked at mum I’d have started crying. I kept it at bay.
“It’s loud, communication becomes harder. At times it gets in the way but I’d take that any day.
“You don’t have to be at your best in the first game and you can grow. Points on board is the most important thing.
“We’ve dealt with pressure and expectation and it’s over now. Good start.”