England Women rounded off their year with a crushing 20-0 win over Latvia that saw Ellen White become her country’s all-time record goalscorer.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the Lionesses’ 2021.
The Wiegman era begins in style
The Lionesses began the year with the announcement that boss Phil Neville would be stepping down from his post and he became manager of Inter Miami soon after. Hege Riise took over as interim boss before the arrival of Sarina Wiegman, who won the 2017 Euros and reached the 2019 World Cup final as coach of Holland. Since taking over in September, Wiegman has won all six of her games in charge, and should have the chance to show what she can do against top opposition in February next year.
World Cup qualifying under way
England finish the year well on track to qualify for the 2023 World Cup and are unbeaten in Group D. The Lionesses sit top of the group, five points clear of Austria, and have scored 53 goals without conceding in qualifying. England have handed out some thrashings, and 30 of their goals have been against Latvia with scorelines of 10-0 and 20-0.
White cemented herself in the record books, overtaking Kelly Smith as England’s all-time leading goalscorer. The Manchester City forward broke the record just nine minutes into England’s drubbing of Latvia with her second goal of the game, taking her to 48 for her country and surpassing Smith’s 46.
Although the statistics of their World Cup qualifying campaign may not reflect it, one of England’s main criticisms in recent years has been aimed at their defensive abilities. England have struggled at the back at times and problems were highlighted in April after losing friendlies to France and Canada 3-1 and 2-0 respectively. Injuries have also been an issue, especially in the last three months of qualifiers, and Wiegman has been without Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and, more recently, Leah Williamson.
Chances for young Lionesses
This year has seen plenty of exciting, young talent in the Lionesses squad make their debuts, including the likes of Lotte Wubben-Moy, Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp. So far this year Toone has scored six goals since her debut against Northern Ireland in February, while club-mate Alessia Russo made her mark with a hat-trick and Hemp scored four against Latvia. The standard of young players coming through this year means that there is plenty for Wiegman to muse over going into 2022.
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