ust 37 days after England won Euro 2022 they returned to action on home soil to face Luxembourg – and what a welcome home party it was.
This was nothing like the nail-biting final against Germany on July 31, which England won in extra-time thanks to Chloe Kelly’s scrambled goal, but after an arduous summer it was probably the comfortable night’s work many of this squad wanted.
The Lionesses cruised to victory against Luxembourg, scoring 10 unanswered goals and treating those at the Bet365 Stadium to some excellent attacking football.
Georgia Stanway and Beth England both claimed braces, while Alessia Russo, Rachel Daly, Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp also got on the scoresheet.
This was, as expected, an utterly dominant performance from England against a side ranked 117 in the world and who they also beat 10-0 in the reverse fixture. They finished this match with over 80 per cent possession and denied Luxembourg the chance to have a single shot on goal.
In many ways it summed up the Lionesses’ qualification campaign for next year’s World Cup, which is now complete, as they topped the group with a 100 per cent record and 80 unanswered goals across 10 games.
England set their stall out early on here in Stoke and their intent to entertain was made clear by head coach Sarina Wiegman making just three changes from the side that beat Austria last Saturday to secure qualification for the World Cup.
Striker Russo was one of those to keep her place and within 11 minutes she had won a penalty, which Stanway slotted home.
Russo got in on the act herself seven minutes later, however she could have realistically had four more before half-time such was the number of chances England created.
Alex Greenwood hit the post from a corner and Luxembourg struggled all night to deal with England’s set-pieces.
Their goalkeeper Lucie Schlime was unsurprisingly exceptionally busy, but she could do little to stop England making it 5-0 by the break.
Stanway fired home Mead’s cut back and then Daly headed home Toone’s cross, before turning provider as she cut the ball back a minute later for Mead to score.
The only dampener during the first-half was the fact it took a good 20 minutes or so for the stadium to fill up, with fans struggling to get to the ground due to transport issues.
With England in cruise control at half-time, Wiegman had the luxury of taking off captain Leah Williamson, Russo and Stanway.
One of those to come on was Chelsea striker England and within two minutes she had made it six by tapping home Mead’s cross.
By the hour mark it was seven as once again England opened up Luxembourg with some slick passing, allowing Parris to fire home for her second goal in three days.
Parris, who struggled for form last season at Arsenal, has looked sharp in pre-season following a move to Manchester United and she capped off a good night’s work by winning a penalty, which Toone calmly converted to get the Lionesses’ eighth.
That looked as if it would be that for England, but in the dying seconds Hemp lashed the ball home after a rebound fell to her in the box from a corner.
The Stoke crowd swiftly began a chant of: ‘We want 10!’. And, with literally the last kick of the game striker England gave them their wish as she scored from a corner.
A perfect 10 end to a perfect summer.