England finish qualifiers with perfect 10 as Stanway sparks Luxembourg rout

Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses concluded their World Cup qualifying campaign atop Group D with 10 wins in 10 games, having scored 80 goals and conceded none, after this 10-0 demolition of Luxembourg.

“I don’t think it could be much better than this, so I’m really happy,” she said. “After the Euros it always seems to be a hard one but I think the team has done a tremendous job coming out of the summer.”

Two goals each from Georgia Stanway and substitute Beth England alongside goals from Alessia Russo, Rachel Daly, Beth Mead, Ella Toone, Nikita Parris and Lauren Hemp sealed the emphatic win at Stoke City’s Bet365 stadium.

It was not quite the homecoming the FA would have wanted for the team’s first home game since winning Euro 2022. At kick-off the stands were sparsely occupied as supporters decried a “park and ride trip from hell” with heavy traffic, insufficient park and ride buses and breakdowns, leaving huge numbers of fans stranded and the ground taking an age to reach the eventual attendance of 24,174.

As a result, the atmosphere was somewhat muted, with those that had made it through the turnstiles doing their best to give the retired Jill Scott, who brought out the European Championship trophy ahead of the teams, and Wiegman, who was presented with her Uefa Coach of the Year award, a welcome worthy of their achievements.

Any expectation that Wiegman would field a vastly different starting XI after qualification for the World Cup was secured against Austria on Saturday night was misplaced. The manager has been clear that she does not want to kill the momentum of a team unbeaten during her tenure and that was coupled with a desire to put on a show.

“You think about performing, about how the players come in and what’s next,” said Wiegman. “People come to the stadium to see the England team they see a lot, so we balance all these things.” There was room for three changes to the XI that faced Austria, with Ellie Roebuck starting in goal ahead of Wiegman’s first-choice, Mary Earps, Alex Greenwood replacing Millie Bright alongside Leah Williamson at the back, and Parris in place of Hemp.

It took 11 minutes for England to break the deadlock, but the goal should have come sooner. Luxembourg are a young team in international football, having been founded in 2003 before playing a first game three years later, and the starting XI included three 18-year-olds and two 16-year-olds.

By the close, a host of England’s fringe players had made their mark, rewarded for the part they played from the sidelines at the Euros as Wiegman and her staff stuck to their tried and tested formula. “That’s also really nice to do. They gave so much to the team but it does start with performance,” said Wiegman. “When you play a game that’s 0-0 and you think we have to do this to win this game, you make choices. When we knew we would win the game we wanted to try some things out and some players. A lot of these players were involved in the Euros and were committed. Winning the Euros was done by 23 players and also by the prep camps 28.”

Up next for the European champions is a Wembley meeting with the World Cup holders, USA, and the Czech Republic at the Amex stadium in October, as Wiegman turns her attention to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next summer.

“It will be a very exciting and loud night,” said Wiegman of the USA game. “We are really looking forward to it being sold out again and that we will play the No 1 in the rankings to see where we are at. I think we’re in a good place. Those are the tests you want all the time.”