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Sarina Wiegman cautions against over-confidence ahead of the Euros

Northern Ireland v England – Women’s FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Windsor Park
(Image credit: Liam McBurney)

Sarina Wiegman is unsure whether England should take too much confidence from their red-hot form in front of goal recently into this summer’s Women’s European Championship.

The Lionesses moved to the brink of qualification for next year’s World Cup as they thrashed Northern Ireland 5-0 thanks to a brace apiece for Lauren Hemp and Georgia Stanway and a goal from Ella Toone.

England have now scored 68 times in eight Group D outings, without conceding, and sit atop the standings, five points clear of nearest challengers Austria with only two matches remaining.

England moved to the brink of qualification in the Women's World Cup (Liam McBurney/PA)

England moved to the brink of qualification in the Women’s World Cup (Liam McBurney/PA)

Impressive though the feat is, Wiegman is well aware England will be faced with much more resilient backlines at Euro 2022 as they bid to get their hands on the trophy for the first time.

“We really have to be clear that the opponents we play in the qualification matches, we don’t expect that level of opponents at the Euros,” said England’s head coach. “It’s going to be harder to score.

“Of course it gives us confidence when we score goals but we’re aware and grounded that the level is just a little lower against most opponents in the World Cup qualification.”

Wiegman, who suspects June’s friendlies against Belgium and Holland will provide more of an acid test for England, was tight-lipped about whether she had decided on her best XI yet ahead of Euro 2022.

The Dutch coach is just seven months into the job and has been deprived of the services of injured defender Steph Houghton, who is facing a race to be fit for the Euros in July after Achilles surgery.

Lauren Hemp bagged a brace in England's win in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

Lauren Hemp bagged a brace in England’s win in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

“It’s a little early to get really close to your first line-up,” Wiegman said. “It’s what’s going to be the 23 and what’s next and after that.

“We don’t have to decide now, which is really nice. Players (also) have to show their consistency on the pitch.”

As for their win in front of a bumper 15,348 attendance at Windsor Park – a record for a women’s match at Northern Ireland, Wiegman added: “The result is great. I’m really happy with it.

“I think it was a very mature performance from us. I think we dominated the game throughout the 90 minutes.

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“We hoped to score a few more goals in the first half and be a little more clinical but four goals in the second half is very nice to see.”

Defeat ends Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualification hopes after falling six points behind Austria.

While they can still move level on points with Austria, Northern Ireland’s inferior head-to-head record has extinguished their already slim hopes of a play-off berth for the competition in Australia and New Zealand.

Head coach Kenny Shiels said: “I can see the growth and we’re getting closer but they’re ranked as World Cup favourites, they haven’t conceded a goal in this group, this just epitomises the magnitude of the task.”

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