England ensured they ended a memorable 2022 undefeated over the entirety of the year, but could only register a frustrating 1-1 draw against 10-player Norway at the Pinatar Arena on Tuesday evening.
Rachel Daly had given England a first half lead with her second goal in as many matches, before Frida Maanum capitalised on an Ellie Roebuck mistake 10 minutes from time to level the scores.
Norway had played the final 18 minutes with 10 players after Anja Sonstevold was given her marching orders for two bookable offences.
The hard fought draw will be a real source of satisfaction for Norway, having been beaten 8-0 by the Lionesses four months earlier during the Euro 2022 group stages.
Sarina Wiegman made five changes to the already slightly experimental side that beat Japan 4-0 last time out, handing a senior debut to Manchester United youngster Maya Le Tissier. The right back was in the thick of the action from the off, chasing and closing down Emilie Haavi as she scampered through on goal down England’s right flank. A combination of Le Tissier’s pressure and a strong Ellie Roebuck save kept the Norway winger out.
England enjoyed more of the first half possession, but it was Norway who saw the better of the chances, Guro Reiten narrowly firing past the wrong side of the post when she probably should have scored.
For all of the Lionesses’ possession, the final pass was often missing. Lauren James fired straight at Aurora Mikalsen after working the space herself with a terrific piece of skill just on the half hour mark in England’s first real sighting of goal.
Minutes later, the deadlock was broken. Chloe Kelly, England’s chief creator against Japan on Friday evening, provided the pinpoint delivery from deep, and Daly flicked home a header to offer Sarina Wiegman another reminder of her goal scoring credentials.
England made a trio of half time substitutions, and this initially disrupted their rhythm. A loose back pass by Katie Zelem was latched onto by Sophie Roman Haug, but Roebuck was out quickly to block the forward’s effort. The England goalkeeper was called into action once more minutes later, stretching to tip a Reiten free kick around the post.
Norway’s hopes of coming back into the game were dealt a blow 20 minutes from time as they were reduced to 10 players. Sonstevold was shown a second yellow card for another cynical foul on the lively Nikita Parris.
England pushed for a second, Kelly seeing a bending effort deflect narrowly wide before, despite their one-player deficit, Norway levelled – and in completely avoidable fashion from an England point of view. Roebuck rushed from her goal to attempt to clear a through ball but failed to make contact, enabling Maanum to stroke into an empty net.
The Lionesses applied the pressure in the final 10 minutes, with Kelly causing problems with a series of dangerous deliveries. However, a winner could not be found, as England rounded off the most remarkable of years in unremarkable fashion.
GK: Ellie Roebuck – 5/10 – Had been superb; produced a near post save after two minutes to keep out Emilie Haavi, out quickly to block a Roman Haug effort and stretched magnificently to tip a Reiten free kick around the post in the second half. But was at fault for the Norway equaliser, failing to make a connection as she attempted to clear a through ball, allowing Maanum to stroke into an empty net.
RB: Maya Le Tissier – 6/10 – Making her senior England debut, and had a busy first half, with Norway’s most promising opportunities come down the Lionesses right flank. Switched to centre back for the final half hour.
CB: Millie Bright (45′ for Morgan) – 6/10 – Defensively sound, cutting out a few probing passes to halt potentially dangerous Norway attacks. Replaced at the break.
CB: Alex Greenwood (63′ for Russo) – 6/10 – Lax on the ball in the build up to a chance for Roman Haug in the second half, but otherwise steady defensively and effective at breaking the lines when building out from the back.
LB: Niamh Charles – 7/10 – Created an opening for Toone with her endeavour to get to the byline in the second half. Saw plenty of the ball going forward, and linked up well with Kelly.
CM: Keira Walsh (45′ for Zelem) – 7/10 – Typically effortlessly cool on the ball and so good in tight spaces; displayed wonderful feet to create a bit of space for herself midway through the first half.
CM: Ella Toone – 6/10 – Fired just wide in the second half after creating the space for herself with some quick feet. Clever movement throughout and sound like up play with the front three.
CM: Lauren James (45′ for Stanway) – 6/10 – Had England’s first sighting of goal with a terrific piece of skill to work the space, before firing straight at Mikalsen. Flashes of quality, but unable to unlock the Norway backline.
RW: Nikita Parris (83′ for Robinson) – 7/10 – Constantly switched flanks with Kelly. Drew a save from Mikalsen in the second half with a header. Grew into the game and responsible for Norway being reduced to 10, twice getting the better of Anja Sonstevold and drawing a pair of cynical fouls from the Norway left back.
ST: Rachel Daly – 7/10 – Given her hotly-anticipated first start as a number 9 under Sarina Wiegman, and opened the scoring with an excellent bit of movement and flicked header. Otherwise didn’t have another sighting of goal, and she moved to right back for the final 30 minutes.
LW: Chloe Kelly – 8/10 – Switched to the right midway through the first half and subsequently saw a lot more joy. Having wreaked havoc with her delivery last time out against Japan, set up England’s opener with superb cross from deep. A constant threat.
SUB: Esme Morgan (45′ for Bright) – 6/10
SUB: Georgia Stanway (45′ for James) – 6/10
SUB: Katie Zelem (45′ for Walsh) – 6/10
SUB: Alessia Russo (63′ for Greenwood) – 6/10
SUB: Katie Robinson (83′ for Parris) – 6/10