England give new boss Sarina Wiegman the perfect start after smashing North Macedonia 8-0


England new boss Sarina Wiegman the perfect start after Lionesses smash EIGHT past Macedonia in opening World Cup qualifier with Ellen White and Beth England bagging braces

  • England kicked off World Cup qualifying by beating Macedonia 8-0 
  • New manager Sarina Wiegman got the perfect start in her first game in charge
  • Four different scorers and two own goals helped the Lionesses ease to victory 


Sarina Wiegman got a perfect start to life as England manager with one of the most routine performances her squad will ever be afforded.

This felt like Sunday League come the final whistle. The gulf between the sides was immense. England finished with 46 shots and could argue they should have scored from at least half of them. 

With four wins in their entire history, this was more about damage control for Kiril Izov’s Macedonia side; in the end it was just too big an ask. Their 4-5-1 formation dropped so deep throughout they could have found themselves in among the England band behind the goal. 

England’s Lionesses kicked off their World Cup qualifying in style by beating Macedonia 8-0

It was the perfect start for new manager Sarina Wiegman in her first game in charge of England

It was the perfect start for new manager Sarina Wiegman in her first game in charge of England

Star striker Ellen White scored two goals in a one-sided match that England totally dominated

Star striker Ellen White scored two goals in a one-sided match that England totally dominated

Match facts and player ratings

England (4-3-3): Earps 7; Daly 8 (Charles 81), Bright 6 (Wubben-Moy 63), Greenwood 6, Stokes 6; Stanway 7 (Scott 71), Williamson 8.5, Toone 7; Mead 6, White 8 (England 71), Hemp 6 (Parris 63)

Subs not used: MacIver, Telford, Zelem, Staniforth, Salmon, Carter 

Goals: Toone (12), White (42, 67), Zivikj OG (45), Kolarovska OG (79), England (77, 90), Mead (90+1) 

Manager: Sarina Wiegman 7 

Macedonia (4-5-1): S Dervishi; Polozhani, Kolarovska, Nikolovska, Zivikj; Saliihi (Petrushevska 79), Mustafa (Mileska 86), Andonova, Markovska (R Dervishi 46), Maksuti (Dimoska 90+1); Rochi 

Subs not used: Lekovska, Kolevska, Boeseska, Paneska, Chubrinovska, Choneva, Petrovska, Jankovska

Booked: Zivikj, Maksuti 

Manager: Kiril Izov 

Referee: Martinez Madrona (ESP) 7 

Attendance: 8,214

‘It was a very good start,’ Wiegman said. ‘We worked hard and I think we saw a lot of energy. 

‘We have to score more chances because we created so many chances. We only scored eight but it’s a nice start.’ 

While last night marked the start of England’s journey to the 2023 World Cup, and this journey under Wiegman, it was much more about a nine-month fast-track to next summer’s home European Championships. 

Wiegman arrives with real pedigree – winner of the 2017 Euros and a World Cup finalist in 2019 with Holland. That is her challenge now, to take this stagnating Lionesses side and not only breathe new life into it but to make it the best in the business. 

It is so tricky to learn too much on a night where talk heading through the turnstiles was of England bettering their record 13-0 win – earned back in 2005 away to Hungary. 

In the end they should have done, why they didn’t was down to a staggering number of misses. England finished with 46 shots, in comparison to Macedonia’s five. And so 8-0, a late rally running the score up, as comfortable as it was, should have been even more. 

‘We know when we play stronger opponents we won’t get as many chances as tonight,’ Wiegman added. ‘But we said at half-time to be a little more composed in the final third.’ 

Manchester United’s Ella Toone, just 22, was handed her third cap and it was she who grabbed the first goal of the Wiegman era. 

Leah Williamson, captain in place of the injured Steph Houghton, was operating in the equivalent of an NFL quarter-back role at the base of the midfield and she thrived – even if she was left disappointed in her display. 

It was her first time through ball that set Toone free, allowing the youngster to make it 1-0. 

Beth England came on in place of White and, not to be outdone, scored two goals of her own

Beth England came on in place of White and, not to be outdone, scored two goals of her own

France, who beat England in a friendly back in April, beat this Macedonia side twice in 2020, a 7-0 win and an 11-0 win showed the kind of level Wiegman was facing for her first match in charge. It was akin to Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions taking on San Marino. 

Toone’s strike was supposed to be the start but time and time again chances went astray, posts and the bar rattled. Few lessons were expected but some shooting drills between now and Tuesday’s qualifier against Luxembourg are more than likely. 

Yet any nerves of wasteful finishing, for which there was plenty, messing this one up vanished with two goals in three minutes before the break. 

Ellen White netted her twelfth goal in 14 games – her 40th for England – from yet more calamitous defending before an own goal from Julija Zivikj made it three before referee Maria Dolores Martinez Madrona gave Macedonia 15 minutes welcome respite. 

Manchester United's Ella Toone, 22, scored the first goal of the Wiegman era on her third cap

Manchester United’s Ella Toone, 22, scored the first goal of the Wiegman era on her third cap

The one-way traffic merely changed lanes for the second half and White added her second, and England’s fourth, from the penalty spot just after the hour mark when Williamson was cynically brought down near the byline. 

White was withdrawn as Wiegman rang the changes, bigger tests naturally lying in wait, and her replacement Beth England got a brace to make her mark. 

A second own goal visibly devastated Macedonia before Beth Mead, who was itching to get among the goals, added the gloss in stoppage time to make it eight.

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