England stormed into the quarter-finals of the Euros on a record-breaking night in which Beth Mead scored a hat-trick in an astonishing 8-0 win over Norway.
The Arsenal striker led the way with her third treble for Sarina Wiegman’s team as England broke the record for the biggest win in the finals of this tournament, which they had equalled when beating Scotland 6-0 in the opening game of Euro 2017.
The England head coach admitted she was almost lost for words as she tried to shape her half-time team talk with England leading 6-0, breaking the record for goals in a first half that France had set 24 hours earlier in their 5-1 victory over Italy.
“To be honest I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ Wiegman said. “You go through the match, you make your plan, you talk to players, and you expect a very competitive match because Norway [have] a good squad and their frontline is really good. We just kept them away from our goal and played the game, and that was really nice to see.”
England had struggled for first-half goals in the buildup to hosting this tournament with Wiegman calling for more ruthlessness but, after Mead scored the only goal in their opening victory over Austria last Wednesday, the floodgates opened on Monday in front of a 28,000 crowd at the Amex Stadium. “I think I can be satisfied with it tonight,” she said.
With qualification for the last eight secured with a game to spare, ahead of Friday’s final Group A clash with Northern Ireland, Wiegman knows she will have to ask her celebrating players to refocus. But she was impressed with the manner they kept going in the second half, as Alessia Russo’s goal and Mead’s third were added to earlier efforts from Georgia Stanway, with a penalty, Lauren Hemp and Ellen White’s first goals since April.
“We try to play our best game and today we did, but it’s just three points,” Wiegman said. “If you win 1-0 or 8-0 it doesn’t make a difference. We didn’t win anything yet.” Mead admitted the players savoured the moment of sheer exaltation in the dressing room afterwards. “We didn’t want to leave,” the Arsenal striker, who has been involved in 29 goals in her last 16 international appearances, said.
“We were having a nice little singsong. We need to enjoy these moments. [It will be] full focus tomorrow but we deserve to enjoy these moments.” Mead now leads the scoring charts at this tournament and would consider winning the golden boot “a nice bonus”.
She added: “I’d love to but I’m just happy to get on the scoresheet again. I love playing for this team so if I can help the team in any way [I’m happy].”