England 5-1 Netherlands: Player ratings as Beth Mead double helps Lionesses to emphatic win

From Elland Road – England whet supporters’ appetite for Euro 2022 with a thumping 5-1 victory over reigning European champions Netherlands at a raucous Elland Road on Friday evening – the Lionesses’ final friendly on home soil before the tournament kicks off on 6 July.

The two sides – who are both fancied to go deep at this summer’s championships – had played out a tightly contested encounter in the opening 50 minutes. But with the scores delicately poised at 1-1 after Lucy Bronze had cancelled out Lieke Martens’ header, Sherida Spitse missed a spot kick, and England went up the other end and took the lead through Beth Mead. Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and a second from Mead added extra flourish on the scoreline as the Lionesses ultimately ran out emphatic winners.

The Netherlands had opened the scoring through Martens, who rose highest to head home Spitse’s corner after 22 minutes.

The goal seemed to spark the Lionesses into life, and they began to enjoy more possession in the Netherlands half, before levelling the scores on 32 minutes – in slightly fortuitous circumstances. Fran Kirby’s slightly miss-hit pass found Bronze, and her sliced cross inadvertently found the top corner.

The Netherlands were given the opportunity to retake the lead in the second half after Alex Greenwood was belatedly penalised by VAR for bringing down Danielle van de Donk. However, Spitse couldn’t add a goal to her assist to mark her 200th appearance, finding the outside of the post from 12 yards out.

It proved to be a sliding doors moment, and within a minute England had the ball in the back of the net. Hemp latched onto Keira Walsh’s superb ball in behind, and her inch perfect cross was buried by substitute Mead.

Fellow substitute Toone added a third with 20 minutes remained, carving out the opening herself with a clever feint, before her curling effort squirmed underneath Sari van Veenendaal.

Two minutes later, it was four. Toone again was at the heart of the action, cracking the post from inside the box, before the ball eventually found its way to Hemp, and the England winger sent a sweetly struck volley into the back of the net.

Mead slammed home from close range on the stroke of full time after the Netherlands failed to clear as the Lionesses wrapped up a statement victory over one of Europe’s very best.

Lucy BronzeLucy Bronze

Bronze was on the scoresheet for England / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

GK: Mary Earps – 6/10 – Made a good stop with her feet to keep out Beerensteyn. Sound with the ball at her feet.

RB: Lucy Bronze – 7/10 – Made a crucial last ditch tackle to keep out Beerensteyn, levelled the scores somewhat accidentally with a sliced cross-come-shot.

CB: Millie Bright – 5/10 – Sloppily conceded possession in her own box in the build up to the Netherlands’ opener. Caught out in behind on a couple of occasions with the pace of the visitors’ front three.

CB: Alex Greenwood – 5/10 – Drew a save from van Veenendaal with a smart, low free kick. Conceded a penalty with a foul on Van de Donk after the Netherlands’ midfielder beat her for pace.

LB: Rachel Daly – 7/10 – Made an important last ditch tackle to keep out Pelova in the first half as the Netherlands midfielder charged towards goal.

CM: Leah Williamson – 7/10 – Cool and calm in tight spaces and always an option for the back four. Moved to centre back for the final half an hour.

CM: Keira Walsh – 8/10 – Out-jumped by Martens as the Netherlands’ winger gave the hosts the lead. Instrumental in England’s second, picking out Hemp with a fabulous pass in behind. Grew into the game and was oozing confidence by the end.

AM: Fran Kirby – 6/10 – Teed up Bronze for England’s equaliser after picking up a loose ball in a pocket of space. Her first start since February for club or country, showed flashes that she’s on the way back to her best.

RW: Chloe Kelly – 6/10 – Grew into the game and got the better of Wilms on a couple of occasions towards the latter stages of the first half, picking out a couple of dangerous crosses. Replaced at half time.

ST: Beth England – 5/10 – Came within a whisker of making contact with a Daly flick on in the six yard area, but otherwise largely starved of service.

LW: Lauren Hemp – 8/10 – An unusually subdued first half as she struggled to get in the game. All change in the second; created England’s second goal, bursting past Janssen and picking out Mead. Added a fourth with a sweet, sweet volley. The Lionesses were at their best when she was involved.

SUB: Beth Mead – 8/10 – On the scoresheet with one of her first touches of the game, drifting into the box and connecting cleanly with Hemp’s cross, and added another well taken goal as the clock ticked down.

SUB: Alessia Russo – 6/10 – Cracked the bar in stoppage time following a clever run off the shoulder.

SUB: Georgia Stanway – 6/10

SUB: Ella Toone – 8/10 – Only on the pitch 25 minutes, but managed to hit the post and get herself on the scoresheet. Really lively.

SUB: Jess Carter – 6/10

Lieke Martens, Lynn WilmsLieke Martens, Lynn Wilms

Martens gave the Netherlands the lead / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

GK: Sari van Veenendaal – 5/10 – Couldn’t have done much about England’s first two goals, but allowed Toone’s effort to squirm under her body for England’s third.

RB: Lynn Wilms – 5/10 – Had been doing a really effective defensive job on the usually destructive Hemp in the first half, rarely allowing her to turn and charge towards goal – until being beaten for pace by the England winger in the build up to the hosts’ second and losing the battle agains the England winger.

CB: Aniek Nouwen – 5/10 – Sound defensively in the first half, looked shakier in the second with the presence of van de Gragt.

CB: Stefanie van de Gragt – 7/10 – Sound defensively, hardly gave Beth England an inch. Replaced at half time, and her side conceded three in her absence.

LB: Dominique Janssen – 5/10 – Had a good battle with Kelly in the first half, lost the run of Mead for England’s second.

CM: Sherida Spitse – 6/10 – Provided the set piece delivery from which the Netherlands opened the scoring – a decent way to mark her 200th (200th!!) international appearance. Clipped the post with a penalty.

CM: Jackie Groenen – 5/10 – Slipped and conceded possession in the buildup to England’s equaliser.

CM: Victoria Pelova – 6/10 – Made a few advanced runs from deep to get beyond Beerensteyn, and alternated with Roord on the right flank on a couple of occasions.

RW: Jill Roord – 6/10 – Typified the Netherlands’ dynamic forward line, occasionally dropping into midfield, occasionally pulling wide and stretching the England backline. But unable to have any real telling attacking impact on proceedings.

ST: Lineth Beerensteyn – 6/10 – Denied twice in the first half, first by a Bronze block and then by the feet of Earps. Changed it up by coming deep and pulling long. Replaced after an hour.

LW: Lieke Martens – 7/10 – Gave the Netherlands the lead by evading Walsh and flicking home a header from a corner. Replaced at half time.

SUB: Danielle van de Donk – 6/10

SUB: Caitlin Dijkstra – 5/10

SUB: Vivianne Miedema – 5/10

SUB: Esmee Brugts – 5/10

SUB: Damaris Egurrola – 5/10

Real Salt Lake sign homegrown Aaron Herrera through 2024

Real Salt Lake have extended the contract of homegrown defender Aaron Herrera, keeping him at the club through the 2024 Major League Soccer season with options for 2025 and 2026. 

Herrera first debuted for the team in 2018, and has gone on to contribute one goal and 16 assists in 107 appearances for the Western Conference side. 

“Aaron epitomizes what Real Salt Lake’s development paradigm represents,” RSL general manager Elliot Fall said in a release. 

“Aaron has been a standout MLS defender throughout his professional career, college, his youth international career as well. We are exceptionally proud of how he represents this club, and we are elated that his presence here is secured for the foreseeable future.”

The defender worked himself up through RSL’s academy, initially joining in 2012. He reached the USSDA National Championship twice in his three years, before reaching USL2 club FC Tucson and eventually Real Salt Lake’s senior squad. 

“I was just a 15-year-old from Las Cruces with a dream when I joined the RSL Academy in Casa Grande, Arizona back in 2012,” said Herrera. 

“The last five seasons here in Salt Lake have brought me so much, have helped me grow on and off the field, so I simply couldn’t be more excited to extend my career at Real Salt Lake.”

With his help, Real Salt Lake stands in second place on the Western Conference table with 28 points in 16 matches and a record of 8W-4L-4D. The team is also coming off of a spectacular 2021 playoff run, shockingly reaching the semifinals as underdogs before falling 2-0 to the Portland Timbers.

Bayern Munich director discusses Cristiano Ronaldo links

Bayern Munich director Hasan Salihamidzic has played down talk that the Bundesliga champions could sign Cristiano Ronaldo this summer.

The Portuguese superstar endured a disappointing 2021/22 season back at Manchester United, with the Red Devils recording their lowest points tally since the Premier League’s inauguration back in 1992.

However, despite United’s struggles, Ronaldo did manage to grab 24 goals in all competitions and he earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

Reports across Europe have suggested that he could look to leave United after just one year back and that he is concerned by the club’s lack of transfer activity.

In recent days, Bayern Munich have been touted as a potential destination for the 37-year-old, but Salihamidzic has poured cold water on such claims.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is a top player with an outstanding career. However, stories on potential deal with Bayern are not true. These rumours have no truth,” he told Sky Germany.

Listen now to 90min’s Talking Transfers podcast, with Scott SaundersGraeme BaileyHarry Symeou & Toby Cudworth. On the latest show they discuss Newcastle’s decision to pull out of a deal for Hugo Ekitike and offer the latest on Arsenal’s pursuit of Gabriel Jesus. Available on all audio platforms and the 90min YouTube channel.

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download the episode in full!

Bayern have already made a marquee signing this summer in the form of Sadio Mane, who has signed for a deal worth up to £35m from Liverpool.

The future of Robert Lewandowski remains up in the air however as Barcelona continue their push for the want-away star striker.

Antonio Conte sends message to Carlos Tevez after stepping into football management

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has sent a video message to Carlos Tevez after it was announced that he would become the new manager of Argentine club Rosario Central.

Tevez decided to retire from playing earlier this month, bringing the curtain down on a 20-year career but almost immediately stepping into a new one in management.

The 38-year-old featured under Conte at Juventus and visited Spurs’ Hotspur Way training ground earlier this year to catch up with his former boss, and in a video posted on Rosario Central’s Twitter feed, the Italian wished Tevez the best of luck and outlined the qualities he should bring into his coaching career.

“Hi Carlos, I hope you are well. You are starting this new career as a coach. I want to wish you the best possible. You were a great footballer and I had the honour of coaching you during the time we were together,” Conte said.

“You showed your determination, your strength, your quality and your leadership on the court and also your competitive edge.

“I hope that as a coach you can pass on the same things to your teammates. I wish you good luck. And we will win!”

How Man City could line up with Kalvin Phillips

Kalvin Phillips is on his way to Manchester City.

The Leeds United midfielder will join the Premier League champions in a deal worth up to £45m.

But where will the England international play? How does he fit into Pep Guardiola’s philosophy? Let’s take a look at how he could be deployed at the Etihad Stadium.

Phillips’ primary position is as a number six – it’s where he played for Leeds, it’s where he plays for England.

The problem he will have is displacing Rodri, who has silenced his doubters and is now one of Europe’s leading defensive midfielders.

But if there’s an injury – and there’s bound to be plenty of rotation in a packed season ahead anyway – then there are plenty of options for Phillips to play alongside.

Ilkay Gundogan has stepped up and played crucial roles in City’s last two title winning seasons, while Bernardo Silva remains a preferred option too (even if Jack Grealish thought he played like Miguel Almiron on the final day).

Oh, and there’s also Kevin De Bruyne.

Potential lineups:

Phillips (DM) – Silva (CM) – De Bruyne (CM)

Phillips (DM) – Silva (CM) – Gundogan (CM)

Phillips (DM) – De Bruyne (CM) – Gundogan (CM)

Phillips (DM) – Silva (CM) – Grealish (CM)

Phillips (DM) – De Bruyne (CM) – Grealish (CM)

Phillips (DM) – Gundogan (CM) – Grealish (CM)

Listen now to 90min’s Talking Transfers podcast, with Scott SaundersGraeme BaileyHarry Symeou & Toby Cudworth. On the latest show they discuss Newcastle’s decision to pull out of a deal for Hugo Ekitike and offer the latest on Arsenal’s pursuit of Gabriel Jesus. Available on all audio platforms and the 90min YouTube channel.

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download the episode in full!

Guardiola experimented with two-man midfields last season in both 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-2-4 formations.

Using such systems again would allow Phillips to partner Rodri and take the shackles off his own game a little – though playing with much higher quality players than he did at Leeds will obviously help too.

From there on, it’ll be all about which wide players support the two midfielders. Thankfully for Guardiola, he has plenty of options.

Possible lineups:

Mahrez (RM) – Rodri (DM) – Phillips (DM) – Sterling (LM)

Mahrez (RM) – Rodri (DM) – Phillips (DM) – Grealish (LM)

Silva (RM) – Rodri (DM) – Phillips (DM) – Sterling (LM)

Silva (RM) – Rodri (DM) – Phillips (DM) – Grealish (LM)