Alessia Russo’s seventh-minute opener and a thumping finish from Nikita Parris proved enough to earn England a 2-0 victory over Austria in Vienna on Saturday, but what did we learn from the night the Lionesses officially booked their World Cup 2023 spot?
Russo continues to grow in stature
Sarina Wiegman admitted 24 hours before kick-off at the Wiener Neustadt Stadium that she was clear on who will fill the void left up top by the absence of the now-retired Ellen White.
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In truth, there was never any real doubt as to who that selection might be – the awe-inspiring backheel vs Norway in mid-July was persuasive enough.
What was left to chance, however, was whether Alessio Russo, a shoo-in starter, could live up to the billing without White’s preface. Seven minutes into the game the Man Utd star provided the perfect response.
The 23-year-old, fearless in her pursuit of a starting berth, shone off the bench at Euro 2022 and did her chances of retaining her elevated standing no harm against Austria.
Her incisive finishing, on display yet again, is matched by an incessant hunger to drive her team forward, link play and provide a useful outlet. She can cope with the ball into feet, or in behind, and has the intelligence to break defensive lines time over.
If anyone was worried about who had the potential to carry the mantle after the magnificent White era, may their concern now be laid to rest.