A late error from Ellie Roebuck saw 10-player Norway hold England to a 1-1 draw in Spain, although the Lionesses still ended 2022 with an unbeaten record.
Although billed as a friendly, there were a number of interesting storylines surrounding the game. England beat Norway 8-0 in the group stages of Euro 2022, with former England interim manager and Team GB head coach Hege Riise now in charge of the Lionesses’ opponents.
Norway pressed early on too as a much-changed England struggled to find their feet, but a sweeping Chloe Kelly cross was nodded home by Daly – who played much of the game in attack – to see the Lionesses ahead in the 33rd minute.
The goal seemed to inject some confidence into Sarina Wiegman’s side and they were handed a further advantage when Norway defender Anja Sonstevold was sent off for two quick fouls on Nikita Parris.
England team news
- England manager Sarina Wiegman handed Maya Le Tissier her debut. Lauren James, Nikita Parris, Alex Greenwood, and Ellie Roebuck were the other changes made by the manager from her side’s 4-0 win over Japan on Friday, while Rachel Daly started up front.
- Mary Earps, Georgia Stanway and Alessia Russo have been named on the bench while Beth Mead returned home due to family circumstances.
But a lapse in concentration from Roebuck saw Frida Maanum equalise. The Arsenal forward charged towards the area as the goalkeeper raced to meet her from the other direction. Roebuck then mis-cued her kick, taking her eye off it for a moment and allowing Maanum to roll the ball into the open net.
England desperately searched for a winner, but were unable to find the target as Riise celebrated with high fives and smile with her staff at full-time. But the Lionesses remain unbeaten under Wiegman, capping off a historic 2022.
How England were held by Norway
Norway had the better of the chances in the opening half an hour. Inside three minutes, Sophie Haug was played through wonderfully by Chelsea’s Guro Reiten, but England debutant Maya Le Tissier’s challenge put her off balance, with her shot palmed away well by Roebuck. Reiten then had a shot herself, but her awkward effort went wide.
England’s first opening in the 15th minute came courtesy of a Norwegian error. There was a mix-up between goalkeeper Aurora Mikalsen and Ingrid Engen, but the ball ricocheted off Daly from close range and went wide. Just before the half-hour, some lovely skill from Lauren James saw her take on the shot, but it went straight at Mikalsen.
After Daly fired England ahead, the Lionesses began to create far more openings, appearing to need the goal to boost their confidence and settle some nerves among a young side.
Kelly and Le Tissier both worked Mikalsen early in the second half, while the Man City winger saw a shot flash across the face of goal. But just before the hour, Roebuck was called into action, making a superb, leaping save to keep out Reiten’s free-kick.
England best passage of play in the 64th minute saw Niamh Charles round Thea Bjelde down the left before finding Ella Toone on the edge of the area. However, the latter’s shot was fired just wide. Parris then sent her header straight at Mikalsen.
Her effort was sandwiched in between two fouls from Sonstevold. On both occasions, the Man Utd winger beat the defender before being tripped with just six minutes between the first and second bookings.
But eight minutes later and a player down, Norway equalised after Roebuck’s error, setting up a frenetic finish at the Pinatar Arena. England threw everything forward, but were unable to add another against a well-drilled Norway defence.
What’s next for England Women?
England’s first fixtures in 2023 will come in the Arnold Clark Cup in February as they look to defend their title.
The Lionesses face South Korea on Thursday, February 16 at Stadium MK in their opening game, also facing Belgium and Italy in the round-robin tournament.