England Lionesses 1-0 Austria Women
England Lionesses continued their incredible winning run in FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 qualifying at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Austria.
Ellen White's decisive goal on her 100th senior England cap opened the scoring in the first half, and Sarina Wiegman's side saw out the three points to remain top of their qualifying group with five wins from five - scoring 33 times and not yet conceding.
Former Sunderland players Beth Mead and Demi Stokes both started the match on Wearside in front of 9,159 supporters, with Jill Scott an unused substitute on the day.
The Lionesses began the game very much on the front foot, camped in the Austrian half for much of the first 45 minutes. Lauren Hemp had the first two major chances for the hosts, first miscuing White's square-ball and then doing well to intercept a stray goal-kick from Manuela Zinsberger and firing back towards goal - the visitors' stopper making amends with a save.
Captain Millie Bright then came close with a speculative strike from all of 35 yards out, sailing just wide as the effort caught Zinsberger alarmed.
The pendulum finally did swing England's way six minutes from the break, as the pressure in the penalty area became too much for Austria and White stabbed home from close range to rapturous applause from the SR5 crowd.
White along with Fran Kirby both saw efforts saved on the stroke of half-time, but the margin remained at one which would give Austria some hope after the break.
Irene Fuhrmann's side - who would go on to suffer their first qualifying defeat of the campaign - had their tails up and flew from the blocks as they hunted down an equaliser, Maria Plattner forcing a tremendous diving save to her right from Mary Earps.
Mead was denied a goal on two occasions on her return to Sunderland by last-ditch defending from the Austrian backline, the first of which potentially raising a penalty shout - Ukrainian referee Kateryna Monzul not convinced.
White almost had her second but for a deflection past the post from her shot 15 yards out, before right-back Rachel Daly sent Zinsberger sprawling to keep out a powerful low drive from the right-hand side.
A dominant but dogged display from England saw out yet another victory and clean sheet in front of the Wearside faithful who braved hugely disruptive weather conditions to attend the match, as attention now turns to Tuesday night's contest against Latvia at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium.
ENGLAND LIONESSES: Earps; Daly, Bright (c), Greenwood, Stokes (Carter 90'); Kirby, Walsh, Toone (Stanway 63'); Mead (Parris 70'), White, Hemp.
Subs not used: MacIver, Hampton, Charles, Wubben-Moy, Nobbs, England, Scott, Russo, Zelem.