England hold on to 1-0 win against Haiti in nervy World Cup opener

Georgia Stanway celebrates scoring a goal for England at the World Cup
Georgia Stanway celebrates with her teammates after scoring England's first goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup Group D football match between England and Haiti (Photo by Patrick Hamilton / AFP)

England had a nervy start to their World Cup campaign, narrowly scraping a 1-0 win against competition newcomers Haiti.

Sarina Wiegman’s European champions have gained a reputation for being cool, calm and collected on the ball. However, they looked shaky in the opening 30 minutes. Misplaced passes, a Haitian high press, and a team lacking in match day minutes saw England under pressure, with the first opportunity of the night falling to Borgella. The Djon FCO forward broke through the Lionesses back line, but dragged her shot well wide of Mary Earps’ goal.

Just minutes later, VAR was called into action as Chloe Kelly’s shin felt the wrath of Dayana Louis’ studs. Replays showed clear contact on the Manchester City forward, but after a short review, Alessia Russo was adjudged to have followed Shwendesky Joseph in the build up. A clear let off for Haiti.

Both teams struggled to keep possession, with neither side able to create a clear cut chance. Against the run of play and with 27 minutes on the clock, the Lionesses were awarded a penalty after a moment of madness saw Haitian defender Batcheba Louis attempt to catch a floating corner delivery, presenting England with the perfect opportunity to open the scoring.

The ball was placed on the spot by Georgia Stanway, whose thunderbolt of a right boot has seen her convert 85 percent of penalties throughout her career. The Bayern Munich midfielder saw her first effort saved by Haitian keeper Kerly Theyu. Their celebrations were cut short after a VAR ordered a retake as the result of goal line encroachment.

Stanway’s second effort was drilled hard and low to the goalkeeper’s right, sending England fans into raptures inside the Suncorp Stadium.

Read: 2023 World Cup: Ultimate group stage guide for all 32 countries

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The second half mirrored the first. Both England and Haiti struggling to make the most of their periods in possession. The Lionesses had a string of half chances, but Theyus was equal to everything thrown at her, saving headers from Russo, and shots from Toone and Stanway.

Lauren James was introduced just past the hour mark. The Chelsea forward stretched the Haitian defence from the second she stepped on the pitch. Despite a successful domestic career, where she has won the Women’s Championship, Super League and FA Cup, this summer’s World Cup marks the first major international tournament for the 21-year-old.

Earps was called into action in the 81st minute. The FIFA Best goalkeeper forced to make a stunning save to prevent an almost certain equaliser from Eloissaint. The win sees England top Group D, with Denmark and China due to face off at 1pm GMT.

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