Time for a toast: Sarina Wiegman ready to celebrate an unbelievable 2022
Sarina Wiegman admitted she was a little disappointed not to finish the year on the high of victory but is looking forward to toasting a remarkable 2022 for her England Women side over Christmas.
On Tuesday night the Lionesses conceded late against Norway to draw 1-1 in what was their final match of the year.
But whilst they were unable to secure another win, 2022 has been an incredible year for Wiegman and her players, as she remains unbeaten as Lionesses coach and helped England Women lift their first major trophy at this summer’s EUROs.
Wiegman said: “ has been very nice, although I am a little disappointed with this [game]. But if you said this was all going to happen from last September until now I probably wouldn't have believed you. You hope for things but what happened was really incredible.
“Also, this week three players made their debuts and lots of players played minutes. We had eight different players in the starting line-up compared to when we played Norway in the EUROs, which is pretty amazing too.
“We take a lot from this and the overall year. I think I am just going to toast a little bit at Christmas time and overthink it!”
Wiegman has given a host of young players an opportunity since this summer’s home EUROs, with Maya Le Tissier and Katie Robinson becoming the latest to make their debuts against Norway.
With eight of the players who started the EUROs Final missing from Tuesday night’s starting line-up, it was a more inexperienced side which took to the field at the Pinatar Arena.
But Wiegman said: “I think we tried enough to win the game, we did a lot to score that second goal but it just didn't go in. That is what we tried against the Czech Republic too last month, but we didn't do it really well but here we really brought the ball in and we had players in good positions we just didn't get in the back of the net.”
On Frida Maanum’s goal, which came after a mistake from goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck, Wiegman said: “It is disappointing. It is a personal mistake but that happens sometimes and when it is the goalkeeper, it is a goal.
“It is a team thing to then try and score another goal and that is what we tried to do but it didn't work. But overall there are so many things we can take from this game, getting information from this to prepare for the World Cup and this gives us so much information, we saw so many players play today and on Friday, which is a good thing.”
After a bright start from Norway, the Lionesses settled into the match and were reasonably comfortable for most of the game.
An excellent cross from Chloe Kelly and an impressive header from Rachel Daly put England in front after just over half an hour.
Norway were then reduced to ten players on 72 minutes when Anja Sønstevold received a second yellow card but that didn’t stop them from battling back.
And when Roebuck missed the ball when coming out to clear, it allowed Maanum to equalise with ten minutes remaining.
For Daly, it was a special night as she was given a rare opportunity to start in her club position of striker, having played a starring role for England at left-back during the EUROs.
Daly said: “I am obviously delighted to be on the scoresheet as a forward. Coming in today that was one of my main targets but ultimately we didn't win the game so it is disappointing.
But we have ended the year with a 20-game unbeaten run and that is credit to absolutely everybody that has been involved. It is bittersweet that I scored but we didn't get the win so that is disappointing.
“I love the No.9 role, but I love football and I say it to everyone I am happy to play anywhere.
“It was a special moment for me tonight, especially wearing the No.9 shirt as it was the number my dad wore when he played as well. But I am happy to play anywhere and I can't reiterate that enough.
“[Being able to play in defence and attack], I guess it comes with being versatile and the work that Sarina and the staff do with me. I am prepared for both positions always, I can't just focus on one, so it is nice to have that role as well.”
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