England Women: The real winners on historical day

ENGLAND Women played their first official international at Wembley Stadium but the occasion ended in disappointment with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat by Germany.

Packed to the rafters: Only 5,000 fans attended England's last home game against Sweden at Hartlepool's Victoria Park ground in September
Packed to the rafters: Only 5,000 fans attended England’s last home game against Sweden at Hartlepool’s Victoria Park ground in September (Image courtesy of the BBC)

ENGLAND Women played their first official international at Wembley Stadium but the occasion ended in disappointment with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat by Germany.

It was a historic milestone for Mark Sampson’s side in front of 55,000 fans – smashing their previous best attendance of 29,092 when the Three Lions faced Finland at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium in 2005.

All tickets were sold for the friendly game, which surpassed the original target of 25,000, and there could have been more had sales not been capped because of London Underground engineering work taking place over the weekend.

The record crowd saw 15,000 more supporters come through the turnstiles than the men’s team against Norway in September.

It was the second time a senior Ladies team had taken to the field at the national stadium after Team GB’s memorable 1-0 win over Brazil during the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The contest, televised live on BBC2, begun England’s preparations for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup – which will be staged in Canada, with the draw taking place in Ottawa on 6 December.

Earlier on Sunday, the BBC announced it will broadcast every game next summer on TV, radio and online, providing the most comprehensive coverage a women’s tournament has ever received.

Both England and Germany qualified with 10 wins from 10 matches and met for the first time since the Germans ran out 6-2 winners in the 2009 European Championship final in Helsinki.

Germany retained the trophy in 2013 by winning a tournament in which England failed to progress beyond the group stages, leading to a change in management with 31-year-old Sampson taking over from Hope Powell last December.

Tough to take: Sampson suffered just a second defeat in his 13th match in charge of the England Women's team
Tough to take: Sampson suffered just a second defeat in his 13th match in charge of the England Women’s team

The Three Lions were confident of beating two-time World Cup winners Germany for the first time and, despite torrential rain in north London, were backed by a healthy crowd who generated a buoyant atmosphere.

A huge cheer was reserved for Karen Carney as the Birmingham Ladies midfielder, 27, received a special cap before kick-off in honour of her 100th appearance for the national team.

Stalwart: Carney has competed in four major international tournaments during her England career
Stalwart: Carney has competed in four major international tournaments during her England career

England, who thrashed Montenegro 10-0 in their previous outing in September, almost took the lead inside 12 seconds when Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs struck the crossbar with a long-range drive.

But Germany quickly showed their superiority by racing into a two-goal lead within 12 minutes as England defender Alex Scott glanced a corner into her own net before Celia Sasic slotted past goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

England Women against Germany at Wembley (23rd Nov 2014)

The killer blow came on the stroke of half-time when prolific Frankfurt striker Sasic headed home a third from close range.

England, whose team included Manchester City pair Steph Houghton and Toni Duggan, threatened during a dull second period but could not get on the scoresheet.

Although the result was merely academic on a landmark day for the exposure of the women’s game, which continues to grow and gain greater awareness throughout the country.

The profile of and the media interest surrounding Ladies’ football is at its highest following a thrilling Women’s Super League season as Liverpool claimed the title on the final day before Manchester City lifted the Continental Cup for the first time.

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