England got their 2023 Women’s World Cup campaign started with a 1-0 win over Haiti.
The sole goal came from a penalty taken by Georgia Stanway in the first half. Initially, her spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper keeper Kerly Theus, but the 24-year-old was a touch off her line, allowing Stanway to retake the penalty and score.
While Sarina Weigman and her side will be keen to focus on their next match, here are three things we learned from their 1-0 victory on Saturday.
Last summer, England stunned teams with their style of play which saw them go on to win the 2022 European Championships on home soil. They played as a team with attacking flair, a dynamic midfield and secure defence.
Today, we saw a team that struggled defensively. Haiti may only have had one shot on target, but that speaks more to their poor decision making and finishing than anything. England’s opponents were dangerous on the counter because they were able to pull the Lionesses’ back-line out of position so freely, only to miss the chances.
It must be taken into account that England are playing with a different back four than the one used during the Euros, with captain Leah Williamson out due to an ACL injury and former left-back Rachel Daly now being deployed as a striker. As the new backline of Lucy Bronze, Millie Bright, Jess Carter, and Alex Greenwood get more minutes together, they will surely improve their communication.
But it’s an issue that the Lionesses will need to look at because as the tournament continues, teams with much stronger and much more experienced frontlines will exploit their defensive lapses much better than Haiti did.
Despite their occasional defensive lapses, England showed some great play going forward, especially in the wide areas.
Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly, and Lauren James all proved that they are some of the best in the world at successfully taking on full-backs and putting pin-point crosses into the box.
The one thing that was lacking was the shooting boots with the wide players and forwards Alessia Russo and Rachel Daly. Between the five of them, they had 14 shots. A combination of a fantastic performance from Haitian keeper Kerly Theus and the Lionesses just taking a moment too long to make the right decision meant that it didn’t become a goals-galore affair.
Haiti may have lost, but they certainly captured the attention of all those who watched, going toe-to-toe with the European champions.
At the heart of it all was 19-year-old Melchie Dumornay, who made the move to Lyon from Stade de Reims this summer. She was a constant threat throughout, creating for her teammates, and testing England’s defence, coming up with one of her side’s two shots on target, three key passes, and winning four fouls.