By Matt Hancock Bruce
A familiar scoreline, but a new era for women’s football. That was the overarching theme of last Saturday, when England’s Women’s team welcomed old foe Germany to the national stadium.
Despite the 2-1 loss, spirits remained intact with the game being a sell-out – some 86,000 tickets sold. Regardless of the attendance on the night only reaching 77,768, this nonetheless shattered the previous record for an England Women’s home fixture of 45,619 set back in 2014 when the hosts again lost to Germany. In fact, the only time the UK has seen attendance higher than this for a women’s game came in the final of the 2012 Olympics, when USA beat Japan in front of over 80,000 fans.
As with most matches between the two nations, penalties played a crucial part. The visitors went ahead after less than ten minutes courtesy of a goal from captain, Alexandra Popp. With ten minutes of the first half to go, the Lionesses were gifted the opportunity to pull the game level. With Beth Mead being awarded a penalty having been brought down in the box by the away side’s goalkeeper, responsibility for the spot-kick fell to Nikita Parris. The FA women’s super league all-time top scorer was unable to beat the German shot stopper, her third penalty miss from her previous four attempts. Luckily English breaths weren’t held for long as the hosts soon tied the game, Ellen White sneaking past the German defence to send the sides into the break at one goal apiece.
Unfortunately, the cheering all but ended there for the homeside. Germany controlled most of the second half, having a goal disallowed on the hour mark. Perseverance shone through however, and the visitors made sure they would return home with a win under their belts. Teenage winger, Klara Bühl, netting the decisive goal just seconds before the final whistle. Even though there is no such thing as a friendly between these two sides, the Lionesses won’t be too discouraged by the result as they proved something far greater, that women’s football is ready for the limelight, and may have already stolen it.
2019 has been a fantastic year for the women’s game globally. Most notably the attention gathered from World Cup this summer. England’s semi-final loss attracted UK television audiences in excess of 11 million, a record only recently beaten by the Rugby World Cup final. Worldwide, the tournament reached almost one billion people through TV alone and its impact on fans and young female athletes is potentially game changing. Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid’s women’s team set a world record for club football, attracting a crowd of over 60,000 for their clash against Barcelona. Club records have also been smashed in Italy and France as female club teams across Europe begin to sell tickets in numbers that compete with the men’s game. With the European championships just around the corner, England have shown that they are ready as hosts and left little doubt that the tournament will shatter the records once more.