BRISBANE, Australia — England manager Sarina Wiegman said her team must show more ruthlessness in front of goal after they survived a scare to beat Women’s World Cup newcomers Haiti 1-0 on Saturday.
England got their campaign off to a winning start, but needed Georgia Stanways’ first-half penalty to get the three points. England were left frustrated in front of goal and required a huge save from goalkeeper Mary Earps late on to keep out a Haiti team who caused them all sorts of trouble.
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It means England have gone four and a half matches without a goal from open play, dating back to their 1-1 draw with Brazil in April.
Wiegman was happy with the performance overall, and pleased that her team managed to overcome a tricky test, but said England needed to be more clinical in front of goal.
“We’re missing ruthlessness — it’s easy to say, but what does that mean?” Wiegman said afterwards. “Sometimes it’s the connection with the cross, the timing of the cross, where the cross ends in the penalty box and connection in front of the goal.
“We were very close a couple of times to scoring, the defence was tough, we’ll keep trying and working on it and start tomorrow again.”
Wiegman went with Alessia Russo up front, preferred over Rachel Daly and Beth England, in one of the positions where there was uncertainty heading into the tournament.
“That’s been a hard choice and you all talk about Alessia and Rachel, but Beth England’s in form too,” Wiegman said. “It has been a hard position. What we’ve done is look at this last period and looked at the competition and in the end, I made a decision.”
Up next for England are Denmark in Sydney on July 28 as they look to make it two wins from two. They’ll look to improve the quality of their crosses but Wiegman’s immediate reaction after the win over Haiti was satisfaction with getting the job done.
“We played a very hard game, we were absolutely ready,” the head coach said. “But Haiti played a very good game too. They played unpredictable, very direct, very strong in the counter attack and that’s what they showed tonight.
“We were on the ball a lot, we created chances again but we had moments where we lost the ball and they were quick in the counter-attack. That was pretty hard for us.”
Haiti had chances to force at least a draw with midfielder Melchie Durmonay the best player on the pitch.
Haiti manager Nicolas Delepine praised her performance but said the standards she’s been setting, despite being just 19-years-old, means she was upset with the overall outcome.
“She’s extraordinary and she does this day in day out, so we’re never surprised to see what she’s capable of,” Delepine said. “I think she was disappointed today as she was capable of more as she’s playing with the high expectations on her shoulders.”
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