Leah Williamson captains England Women to victory over Katie McCabe’s Ireland, in Euro qualifier

The stage was set in Dublin last night, with nearly 33,000 fans at Aviva Stadium, as the Republic of Ireland Women faced reigning Euro champions, England’s Lionesses, in the 2nd group game of the Euro 2025 qualifiers. Arsenal Women’s Leah Williamson made her return to captaincy of the Lionesses.

Both teams were fighting for victory, after England got off to a faltering start in the 1st group game against Sweden, with a 1-1 draw, and Ireland suffered a 1-0 loss to France. Only the top 2 teams in the group automatically The top two sides automatically qualify for next summer’s tournament in Switzerland, with the other two nations dropping into the play-offs.

England opened the scoring with a brilliant goal from Lauren James, set up through a great ball in from Keira Walsh, and a deflected header from Lucy Bronze. Defender Alex Greenwood’s penalty made it 2-0, but she missed a second spot-kick before half-time. The score remained 2-0 at full-time.

The Republic of Ireland sit bottom of the group with two defeats. England are now on 4 points, two points behind leaders France, while Ireland are bottom of the table, 1 point below 3rd placed Sweden.

Williamson played a key role as the Lionesses kept a clean sheet, despite a lot of late pressure from the Girls in Green. This game marked the return of captain Leah Williamson, who had not played for the Lionesses for nearly one full year, following an ACL injury in April 2023. Speaking after the match, Arsenal’s Williamson clearly enjoyed her return to the England squad!

“I had my eyes set on this,” said Williamson.

“Honestly I just really, really love playing for England. When I put this badge on I feel 10 times taller, 10 times stronger. The girls are such a great group of girls and I loved every second of that.”

“These days with ACLs, you come back hopefully in a healthy way, but I wanted to be good enough to play for England again,” added Williamson.

The standards are so high and the players that have been here have made them higher. This was the thought and I felt today was a completion of that journey.”

“When it finished, that was the most emotional I was. I wanted to stay in the game and be present but it’s been a journey. It’s a nice feeling,” she added.

What are your thoughts on the game Gooners?

Michelle M

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