Northern Ireland's Shiels mars England win 


The Northern Ireland manager, Kenny Shiels, blamed women for being "more psychological than men" as a factor for women's teams conceding a second goal quickly after a first, following a heavy defeat which all but assurances England's credentials for the Women's World Cup.

" In the ladies's game, I've seen, as I'm sure you're mindful, if you go through the patterns, when a team concedes a goal they concede a second one in a very short time period, right through the whole spectrum of the women's game, due to the fact that girls and women are more psychological than men," he stated. "So, they take a goal going in not well."

His team had conceded three in 9 minutes against Austria on Friday and in the 26th minute then four in 27 minutes in the second half against England.

The comments marred a historic night for women's football in Northern Ireland where a record crowd of 15,348 fans were welcomed to Windsor Park.

Two goals each from rampant winger Lauren Hemp and her Manchester City teammate Georgia Stanway and another from Manchester United's Ella Toone directed England to an emphatic win against a team they will meet in their final group game of the Euros in the summer.

England made sure at least a playoff place for next summer's tournament but will likely top the group with Austria requiring to reverse the superior goal difference of 32 need to the Lionesses take a single point from their final 2 games of the certifying campaign.

Northern Ireland were constantly going to offer a sterner test than North Macedonia had the previous week, not just in terms of the 10-0 score-line. The Lionesses switched the close-to empty Tose Proeski Arena for a journey to the sold-out Windsor Park, the dry heat of Skopje for an ice-cold Belfast, a record Northern Ireland crowd in complete voice and were facing a team that had not conceded in the first half in 6 games prior.

But it would have been naive to think that Sarina Wiegman's side, serious competitors for the home Euros ahead, would not reverse a team of players that entered a first ever seven-month full-time spell in January in preparation for a first appearance at a major international tournament this summer.

For Shiels's team, a crushing 3-1 defeat to Austria, their primary rivals for a 2023 World Cup playoff place, recently stacked the pressure on for the visit of England.

Rather, England punctured the first-half run of the home team. It had been coming. Hemp went on a rupturing run into the box on the left before a cool one-two with Toone and the Manchester City winger finished the move by lofting the return over Jacqueline Burns and into the far corner. It was Hemp's 5th senior international goal, a terribly low tally provided her influence in the England attack in the in 2015.

" The outcome is fantastic," stated Wiegman. "I'm really delighted with 5-0. I thought it was a mature performance from us. I believe we controlled the game as well."

England had made two changes to the side that travelled past North Macedonia. Newly-named Euros captain Leah Williamson was positioned alongside Millie Bright in the centre of defence, after sitting out the previous tie while following concussion procedure as a precaution. Jess Carter, who had filled in alongside Bright, was moved to left-back in place of Demi Stokes.

In the 52nd minute England doubled their lead against the team they beat 4-0 at Wembley in October. Right-back Lucy Bronze weaved into the box, evading four green shirts, before sending in a cross that Toone would sweep in at the back post.

Northern Ireland almost countered quickly, with Lauren Wade switching on the edge of the box prior to requiring England keeper Mary Earps to come down low to press away her effort.

By the hour mark though the visiting team were three up. Williamson's perfectly weighted defensive-splitting pass discovered Hemp and the forward rounded Burns with a single touch before sending out the ball rolling into the empty net.

Stanway offered the goal that would match their Wembley tally however it was the mazy run of Toone on the left as green shirts stood back that should have the credit, with the young United midfielder selflessly handing over for Stanway to hammer home.Stanway scored her second less than 10 minutes later on, hooking into the bottom corner after scrappy play in the box.

" We actually need to make it clear that with the challengers we don't anticipate that level at the Euros," warned Wiegman. "It will be more difficult to score however we do see the connections in between players and how we wish to play. The level is really high in the training sessions so it's getting clearer."

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