England roar back to keep Paris dreams alive

AFP

England clawed their way back from two goals down to beat the Netherlands 3-2 in a nerve-jangling Women's Nations League group game at Wembley on Friday and keep their dreams of a Paris Olympic berth alive.

Ella Toone netted a 91st-minute goal while Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp also scored to propel England, World Cup finalists three months ago, to second in Group A1 on nine points with one round of group games remaining. The Dutch, who also have nine points, top the group.

Lineth Beerensteyn had capitalised on shoddy England defending to score a first-half brace - the Netherlands' only two shots on target on the night.

"It was a great comeback," Toone told ITV. "Three good goals. I love playing for England, I love playing football, tonight was really special. But the main thing is that we won.

"The character we showed to come out and get those three goals, everyone wants to beat England, we've got that target on our back," she added.

A two-goal victory would have given England a firmer grip on their destiny. The group will now be decided on Tuesday, with England facing Scotland, who are fourth on two points, and the Netherlandsplaying Belgium (third on eight points). The two Nations League finalists earn Olympic berths.

"I feel a little bit strange," England manager Sarina Wiegman said. "I am really happy with the win but in the end you hope you win by two goals so you're in a better position.

"But, coming back from 2-0 down and how we showed up in the second half was so well done."

Beerensteyn netted her first in the 12th minute when she ran onto a pinpoint pass from Victoria Pelova before muscling past a pair of defenders.

The Juventus forward doubled the lead in the 35th minute after beating both Jess Carter and Alex Greenwood before firing a hard low shot that Mary Earps let sail straight through her hands. The Manchester United keeper slammed a fist on the turf in frustration.

Asked what she was thinking after the second goal, Earps said: "Words I can’t say on TV. That’ll haunt me for a long time. I’ve really let the team down today, and I’m really gutted, really gutted. (But) the team were unbelievable."

Stanway finally had the Wembley fans cheering in the 58th minute with her header into the bottom corner off a chipped pass over the top from Lauren James.

Hemp coolly slotted home in the 60th after a deflection from a shot from Beth Mead, who was playing her first game for England in more than a year following a knee injury.

England kept pressing and second-half substitute Toone brought the crowd of 71,631 fans to their feet when she blasted the ball through Daphne van Domselaar's legs after a cross from James.

The seventh-ranked Netherlands were eliminated by eventual winners Spain in this year's World Cup quarter-finals.

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