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England Wins Women’s Euros Opener in Front of Record Crowd at Old Trafford

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Beth Mead scored the only goal of the game as host England beat Austria 1-0 in front of a tournament-record crowd of 68,871 at Old Trafford in the women’s European Championship opener on Wednesday.

Mead skillfully flicked the ball over Austria goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger in the 16th minute but it needed goal-line technology to prove it had just crossed the line before being cleared.

That narrow margin reflected a close game in which England dominated possession but couldn’t create enough clear chances to match its more convincing pre-tournament wins over teams like Belgium, Denmark and the defending champion Netherlands.

The 16-team tournament kicked off a year later than originally scheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic. It carries hopes that it will further boost the fast-growing audience for women’s soccer in Europe, and UEFA has said more than 500,000 tickets have been sold.

Since the last tournament in 2017, England has been at the forefront of that development as Women’s Super League clubs signed many of the world’s best players and increased revenue and TV audiences. The England national team is still seeking a first major tournament title.

Austria was a surprise semifinalist in the 2017 European Championship on its only previous appearance, when it conceded one goal in five games and only lost in a penalty shootout.

England goalkeeper Mary Earps stopped Austria getting a point Wednesday when she dived at full stretch in the 78th to stop Barbara Dunst’s dangerous curling shot.

England could earlier have scored more when Ellen White headed wide in the 26th and Zinsberger reacted quickly to keep out Lauren Hemp’s effort in first-half stoppage time.

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