Football

England ‘Have To Improve’ But Sarina Wiegman Happy With Return To Winning Ways

Four days on from being held 1-1 by Sweden at Wembley in their Group A3 opener, the reigning European champions went in front via Lauren James’ early finish and Alex Greenwood added an 18th-minute penalty before sending another against a post on the half-hour mark

Damien Eagers/PA
England players applaud the fans after their win in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers/PA
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Sarina Wiegman was “really happy” with the win while seeing room for improvement after England got a first Euro 2025 qualifying victory on the board by beating the Republic of Ireland 2-0 at the Aviva Stadium. (More Football News)

Four days on from being held 1-1 by Sweden at Wembley in their Group A3 opener, the reigning European champions went in front via Lauren James’ early finish and Alex Greenwood added an 18th-minute penalty before sending another against a post on the half-hour mark.

After the break Fran Kirby was thwarted by a fine Courtney Brosnan save, and Hannah Hampton – selected over Mary Earps in the England goal – then parried Caitlin Hayes’ header as the Republic applied late pressure to no avail in front of a crowd of 32,742.

Photo: File
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Lionesses boss Wiegman, whose side are two points behind pool leaders France ahead of playing them in a double-header in their next fixtures on May 31 and June 4, said: “I think the first half we were totally dominating.

“We were 2-0 up but I think we should have been up more. I think at moments we should have been more tight on the ball, more secure to really create the big chance, and right before the chance sometimes we were a little bit sloppy, although I did think we played well."

“I think the second half, at moments we did good too but then they got momentum and we were struggling a little bit and they made it a real fight."

“We had to really fight in one-v-ones in the 18-yard box, and then for us of course it’s a lesson that if we win that ball we really want to keep it and play out of that press and then create our momentum again. That’s what we struggled with a bit."

“But I do think what we showed is we really as a team wanted to keep the (clean sheet), were able to fight also. That’s what we take with us for the next games, so I’m really happy with the win."

“We know they (France) are at the absolute top level so we have to be at our top level. We have to improve all the time, first of all because we want that, and second, because if we want to stay at the top, then it’s necessary to develop.”

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Asked about her decision to select Hampton over Earps, Wiegman said: “They are two incredibly good goalkeepers, so that’s a really luxury position we’re in."

“Mary’s been really consistent with us but Hannah is also competing, has improved a lot, so I felt this was a game to give her the opportunity to play, I have the trust that she can do a good job."

“In the air (Hampton) was good, we know she’s good with her feet, some moments could have been better, but solid, and one save was important in the second half."

“Of course (Earps) was disappointed, because she wants to play and has been so good for us. We had that conversation and then she just showed up and moved on.”

Five changes to Wiegman’s starting XI also included fit-again skipper Leah Williamson returning for her first appearance in just under a year, and she said of the defender: “I’m happy with her performance, she had to get through this moment.”

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