The Telegraph wrote of a “perfect start to the tournament”, the Guardian even saw a “new beginning for women’s football” in the opening game of the European Championship in front of a record crowd: After the successful and, above all, highly emotional start of the European Championship by the Lionesses, the mother country of football indulged in superlatives.
The hoped-for victory at the start of the title-winning mission was one thing, but given the goosebumps atmosphere with 68,871 fans at Old Trafford, England’s footballers were almost speechless. “Incredible,” said national coach Sarina Wiegman after the 1-0 win against Austria, “there are no other words for it, it’s just incredible”.
And the future Bayern player Georgia Stanway also enthused after the previous audience record at a European Championship game in the 2013 final (41,301 in Solna, Sweden) had been pulverized: “The atmosphere speaks for itself, the number of people who came was sensational”.
Stanway, who was named player of the game after the game, knew that there was still room for improvement with the title candidate. But the entire English team was initially relieved that Beth Mead’s remarkable goal (16th) was enough for the first small step towards the big goal.
“Result is what counts”
“We got the result and that’s what counts,” said the 23-year-old offensive player. The best thing, according to Stanway after the successful start of the tournament, was the “noise of the fans” anyway.
England’s exceptional talent will have to do without the big noise for the time being. The other group games will take place on Monday (against Norway) in Brighton and on the following Friday (against Northern Ireland) in Southampton – both stadiums “only” hold around 30,000 spectators.
However, the next attendance record for a game at a women’s European Championship has already been programmed: more than 87,000 tickets are already sold out for the final on July 31 in Wembley. Stanway and Co. would love to be there again.