England end 2022 unbeaten but Norway battle back for draw despite red card

The Lionesses signed off on a successful year, ending 2022 unbeaten with a 1-1 draw against 10-player Norway. Rachel Daly’s first-half goal was cancelled out by Frida Maanum late on as the final international break came to a close.

It had been 127 days since these two last met on that memorable summer’s evening in Brighton. That day, Sarina Wiegman’s side subjected Norway to an 8-0 drubbing on their way to winning the European Championship. This was a much closer affair as Norway, now under the management of Hege Riise, presented more solidity and defensive nous.

Wiegman was slightly disappointed as a goalkeeping error from Ellie Roebuck and her side’s inability to find a second goal cost them a 17th win of the year. However, she was also keen to emphasise the positives. “I think I found the Czech game [last month] a little more frustrating, because we did a couple of things we could have done better,” the England manager said. “I think today we could have done better too but we can take a lot of pluses out of the last game. So, it was disappointing [rather than] frustrating.”

Her side was much changed due to both injury and taking the opportunity to bed in new faces. Five changes saw a much-awaited senior debut for Maya Le Tissier while Lauren James started in midfield and Daly was given a rare opportunity up front.

Norway had won three of their last five under Riise, most recently losing narrowly to France on Friday evening. The manager made three changes from that match with Aurora Mikalsen given a start in goal while Emilie Haavi and Lisa Naalsund provided fresh legs up the field.

It was the Norwegians who started the brighter, finding their feet quickly. Haavi made an impression straightaway, exploiting the space afforded to her down the left. She forced a smart save from Roebuck early on before setting up Naalsund who fired over.

England, on the other hand, were dominating possession but struggling to make an impact. They truly settled after one of James’s trademark runs saw them register their first shot on target. The Chelsea midfielder has a habit of making football look easy and she glided past her marker with effortless skill before firing a shot into Mikalsen’s gloves.

England looked in control and opened the scoring through Daly with half an hour gone. She rose high to head home a pinpoint delivery from Chloe Kelly, her ninth goal of the season for club and country.

Wiegman is not known for making early substitutions but three came at once after the break, perhaps with a nod to the busy domestic schedule ahead. Changes can disrupt rhythm and Norway saw it as an opportunity to put a new-look Lionesses defence under pressure. Amalie Eikeland had Roebuck stretching to tip over a curling effort before the keeper was alert to the run of Sophie Roman Haug.

This England side, however, have the ability to turn pressure around in an instant. Kelly’s deliveries from the left have been of the highest quality recently and she produced two more that were crying out for a crimson shirt to get on the end of.

The 72nd-minute departure of Anja Sønstevold, given her marching orders for two yellow-card challenges on Nikita Parris, should have given England another lift. Despite their shortage in numbers, however, Norway were in no mood to throw in the towel and a big error from Roebuck allowed them back into the game. As the ball bounced towards her, England’s goalkeeper missed her kick allowing Maanum to capitalise with a free shot at goal.

Wiegman was keen not to place the blame on her goalkeeper, insisting her side should have put the game to bed. “It’s disappointing, but these things happen sometimes,” she said. “When it happens to the goalkeeper, then it’s a goal. As a team, we had to score another goal, and that’s what we tried to do.”

England pushed for a winner with Katie Robinson providing fresh legs in attack as she became another to earn her first senior cap. Despite their dominance on the ball, however, they could not fashion a clear-cut opportunity and had to settle for a draw to round out their year.