England vs Norway: Five things we learned as Lionesses advance to Euro 2022 quarter-finas in style

England scored six first-half goals, and then added two more, to rout Norway and qualify for the quarter-finals of Euro 2022.

On an unbelievable night in Brighton, the Lionesses produced the display of the tournament so far in thrashing a Norwegian team ranked just three places below them in the world.

Georgia Stanway scored an early penalty before Lauren Hemp swiftly made it two. Two goals each from Ellen White and Beth Mead made it six before half time. After the break, Alessia Russo made it eight before Mead completed her hat-trick.

While England still have Northern Ireland to face on Friday, they are all but guaranteed to qualify top of Group A and Sarina Wiegman can now prepare her side for the knockout stages.

Here are five things we learned:

England lay down Euro 2022 statement

Make no mistake, this England team just produced one of the most eye-catching displays from any host nation at a major international tournament. In doing so, England became the first team in Euros history, men’s and women’s, to score seven or more goals in a match. Indeed, the Lionesses completely tore Norway apart, and this was against a team ranked 11th in the world and who were expected to compete with England for top spot in Group A.

Stanway got England up and running with her early penalty

(The FA via Getty Images)

Instead of worrying about Ada Hegerberg, Caroline Graham Hansen and Guro Reiten, England ensured that they were the team handing out nightmares. England were right at it from the start and while the Norway defence was shambolic at times, offering far too much space for the hosts, the attacking performance from Sarina Wiegman’s side was simply sensational.

France and Germany had put down the marker during the opening round of fixtures – but England have raised the bar to another level. After the nerves of Old Trafford, this was the release of a home nation who believe they can go all the way, on what was a brilliant night on the south coast.

There were so many positives, from Ellen White getting her tournament up and running to the confidence flowing around the entire side. England are flying and in already qualifying for the quarter-finals, it sets up tournament fever. It’s coming home, anyone?

Beth Mead leads England’s lethal right flank

The “Beth Mead revenge tour”, as Ian Wright put it, has hit new heights. Viewers of the Women’s Super League will be aware of Mead’s brilliant season and career numbers for Arsenal, which came after the rejection from the Team GB Olympics squad, but the winger was tonight playing with confidence that few players could even dream of reaching.

Mead has raced ahead in the golden boot standings

(The FA via Getty Images)

Working in tandem with the reliably outstanding Lucy Bronze, Mead produced the individual display of Euro 2022 so far – and it’s hard to imagine how it will be topped. The deliveries from the right wing alone were sublime, let alone the header from Lauren Hemp’s cross and then the wonderful dribble as England ran riot.

England’s flying high-press start

England’s phenomenal first-half performance came from a high-tempo start. The Lionesses did not allow Norway a moment to settle in the opening stages, pressing high up the pitch with Fran Kirby and Georgia Stanway taking aggressive positions on either side of Keira Walsh in midfield. Norway were barely able to string a pass together and it meant that when England turned the ball over it quickly developed into threatening positions.

White presses Thorisdottir for England’s third goal

(The FA via Getty Images)

The opening goal was fortunate (more on that in a moment) but it was followed by England’s quick second, while the third was a perfect example of their approach. England forced Norway inside and Ellen White followed in Beth Mead’s press to dispossess the defender and cap a perfect start from Sarina Wiegman’s team, which they swiftly added to.

VAR disappears on England penalty

It may not have mattered anyway, but did the injustice of the early penalty add to Norway losing their heads? VAR may have correctly overturned the decision to disallow Lauren Hemp’s close-range finish for offside, but it was conspicuously absent on the opening goal of the match.

There did not appear to be enough contact to bring White down

(The FA via Getty Images)

England’s Ellen White dived for the spot-kick and while Maria Thorisdottir did have her arm outstretched, it was nowhere near enough contact or force to bring the striker down. You could argue that it was clever and experienced play from White to make the most of the defender’s positioning but it was also a clear deception of the referee, and VAR should have overturned it given the evidence on display.

Ellen White replies to the critics

There were some suggesting after England’s opening display against Austria that Ellen White should be dropped to the bench for their second match of Group A, but by adding her 51st and 52nd international goals and moving one behind Wayne Rooney’s record the striker has given an emphatic answer to her critics.

The England striker is one goal away from Rooney’s record

(The FA via Getty Images)

White led the line brilliantly for England throughout the match. Even on the penalty, it was her touch in the box to create the space, while she showed typically tenacity to rob Thorisdottir off possession for her first goal of the tournament. With White on this type of form, she is not only a character England need to have for a home Euros, but a striker as well.

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