Sarina Wiegman ‘disappointed’ as England draw with Sweden in Wembley qualifier

Sarina Wiegman disappointed as England draw with Sweden in Wembley qualifier

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Alessia Russo nodded home Lauren James delivery to open the scoring in the 24th minute.

England boss Sarina Wiegman conceded she was “disappointed” after her defending champions could only manage a 1-1 draw with Sweden to kick off their Euro 2025 qualifying campaign at Wembley.

Alessia Russo nodded home Lauren James’ delivery to open the scoring in the 24th minute, but it was the visitors who looked likelier to score as half-time approached.

The Lionesses preserved their lead until the 64th minute, when England’s concentration switched off and allowed Fridolina Rolfo to drift in and nod substitute Rosa Kafaji’s delivery past Mary Earps.

Wiegman said: “I think this group is really tough. Of course I’m disappointed, because we always want to win.

“I think we scored a great goal, there was momentum in the game, we played well and we kept the ball a little longer.

“Second half I thought the goal was really unnecessary. They scored because we gave away a throw-in and from that throw-in we weren’t able to take out the cross and they scored from that. That was disappointing.

“As we see Sweden is a very tough opponent. I do think we could have done a couple of things better, but also showed Sweden gave us a hard time at the moment.

“We just want to learn from these games, we want to do better every game as other countries want to do too. I think it just shows how close and how tight our competition is.”

England were perhaps lucky that Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius, who provided the winning strike in the Gunners’ League Cup final victory on Sunday, did not decide another contest this week.

She came achingly close when she found herself one-on-one with Earps shortly after the equaliser, instead directing her effort just wide of the England goalkeeper’s right post.

Wiegman made four second-half changes and staged a late rally, but were unable to find the finishing touch before the whistle blew on three minutes of added time.

Leah Williamson, who captained the Lionesses to their European triumph at Wembley in 2022, watched the entirety of the contest from the bench, almost a year out from her last England appearance.

The Arsenal defender, who was ruled out of last summer’s World Cup after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament, has experienced a number of setbacks since returning to the Gunners in January.

Wiegman, however, was quick to confirm her decision to bench the 27-year-old had nothing to do with fitness concerns that plagued Williamson in the build-up to these qualifiers, after she was substituted in the second half of the League Cup final.

She firmly stated: “She is not injured otherwise she would not have been in the squad, and I would have told you that she was injured.”

The England boss also disagreed with speculation by some pundits that she had prematurely substituted her goalscorer, who was swapped for Chloe Kelly in the 79th minute, explaining: “Alessia played well but tactically we wanted to change a couple of things. We brought Lauren Hemp inside. We just wanted something a little bit different.”

The last time these two sides faced each other was in the semi-finals of Euro 2022, when Russo memorably scored an audacious backheel in the 4-0 victory to earn a nomination for FIFA’s goal of the year.

Friday’s meeting was a much closer affair, with Sweden boss Peter Gerhardsson later revealing he was pleased by the way his side’s plan to shut down England midfielder Keira Walsh – who wore the captain’s armband – had worked.

He said: “It’s one point each now, and it’s five more games. We don’t know what is going to happen.”

Sarina Wiegman disappointed as England draw with Sweden in Wembley qualifier

Alessia Russo nodded home Lauren James delivery to open the scoring in the 24th minute.

England boss Sarina Wiegman conceded she was “disappointed” after her defending champions could only manage a 1-1 draw with Sweden to kick off their Euro 2025 qualifying campaign at Wembley.

Alessia Russo nodded home Lauren James’ delivery to open the scoring in the 24th minute, but it was the visitors who looked likelier to score as half-time approached.

The Lionesses preserved their lead until the 64th minute, when England’s concentration switched off and allowed Fridolina Rolfo to drift in and nod substitute Rosa Kafaji’s delivery past Mary Earps.

Wiegman said: “I think this group is really tough. Of course I’m disappointed, because we always want to win.

“I think we scored a great goal, there was momentum in the game, we played well and we kept the ball a little longer.

“Second half I thought the goal was really unnecessary. They scored because we gave away a throw-in and from that throw-in we weren’t able to take out the cross and they scored from that. That was disappointing.

“As we see Sweden is a very tough opponent. I do think we could have done a couple of things better, but also showed Sweden gave us a hard time at the moment.

“We just want to learn from these games, we want to do better every game as other countries want to do too. I think it just shows how close and how tight our competition is.”

England were perhaps lucky that Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius, who provided the winning strike in the Gunners’ League Cup final victory on Sunday, did not decide another contest this week.

She came achingly close when she found herself one-on-one with Earps shortly after the equaliser, instead directing her effort just wide of the England goalkeeper’s right post.

Wiegman made four second-half changes and staged a late rally, but were unable to find the finishing touch before the whistle blew on three minutes of added time.

Leah Williamson, who captained the Lionesses to their European triumph at Wembley in 2022, watched the entirety of the contest from the bench, almost a year out from her last England appearance.

The Arsenal defender, who was ruled out of last summer’s World Cup after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament, has experienced a number of setbacks since returning to the Gunners in January.

Wiegman, however, was quick to confirm her decision to bench the 27-year-old had nothing to do with fitness concerns that plagued Williamson in the build-up to these qualifiers, after she was substituted in the second half of the League Cup final.

She firmly stated: “She is not injured otherwise she would not have been in the squad, and I would have told you that she was injured.”

The England boss also disagreed with speculation by some pundits that she had prematurely substituted her goalscorer, who was swapped for Chloe Kelly in the 79th minute, explaining: “Alessia played well but tactically we wanted to change a couple of things. We brought Lauren Hemp inside. We just wanted something a little bit different.”

The last time these two sides faced each other was in the semi-finals of Euro 2022, when Russo memorably scored an audacious backheel in the 4-0 victory to earn a nomination for FIFA’s goal of the year.

Friday’s meeting was a much closer affair, with Sweden boss Peter Gerhardsson later revealing he was pleased by the way his side’s plan to shut down England midfielder Keira Walsh – who wore the captain’s armband – had worked.

He said: “It’s one point each now, and it’s five more games. We don’t know what is going to happen.”

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