The Lionesses had a successful year and went undefeated in 2022 in southeast Spain in a somewhat frustrating 1-1 draw with Norway. Rachel Daly’s halftime goal was canceled late by Frida Maanum as the final international break came to an end.
It had been 127 days since the last meeting of these two sides on that unforgettable summer evening in Brighton. That day, Sarina Wiegman’s side swept Norway 8-0 on their way to win the European Championship.
There was a big difference from that night. An breezy Pinatar Stadium in Murcia was the scene, and despite being nearly full, it was in stark contrast to the recent crowds in England. Wiegman’s side has changed a lot, both because of his injury and as he used the opportunity to sleep with new faces. The young players, who had just come out of an impressive show against Japan last week, have been given another chance. Five changes saw Maya Le Tissier make her debut and Lauren James start in midfield, while Daly was given a rare opportunity as a center forward.
Norway had won three of their last five games under their new manager, Hege Riise, since the summer, losing by a narrow margin to France on Friday evening. Riise made three changes from that game where Aurora Mikalsen kicked off a goal, while Emilie Haavi and Lisa Naalsund provided new legs. It was the Norwegians who started brighter, quickly found their footing, and advanced with energy. Haavi made an immediate impression, found spacetime and again on the left. He forced a clever save from Ellie Roebuck in the opening minutes before setting up the space-shooting Naalsund.
England dominated the ball but struggled to make an impact in the last three. The combination of the wet surface and the new faces was why the Lioness needed to find their feet. They really settled in after one of James’ trademark runs saw their first shot on target. The Chelsea midfielder makes the football look easy and glides past his marker with effortless dexterity before smashing a shot into Mikalsen’s gloves.
England took control from this point and opened the score with half an hour left with Daly in form. He rose to go home with another definitive Kelly delivery, the ninth goal of an outstanding season for club and country. There could have been two more just before the timeout but the back of the net eluded him in the final stages of the first half.
Wiegman is not known for making early substitutions, but three substitutions came during the break, perhaps a nod to the busy local schedule for the coming weeks. Georgia Stanway took the captain’s armband as she entered the fight alongside Katie Zelem and Esme Morgan.
The changes could cause disruption, and Norway saw this as an opportunity to put pressure on a new-looking Lionesses defensive line. Amalie Eikeland stretched Roebuck to knock down a curling effort before English goalkeeper Sophie Haug was alert as she ran past.
But this UK side can unlock the talent in an instant. Kelly’s left-hand deliveries stood out in this international tween, and produced two more that screamed for a crimson shirt to be draped over the end. They were also helped by Anja Sønstevold’s departure at the 73rd minute, when Zuzana Valentova ordered Nikita Parris to march for two yellow card battles.
Despite their shortfall in numbers, Norway was in no condition to throw in the towel and provided a late shock. Arsenal’s impressive midfielder, Frida Maanum, took advantage of Roebuck’s utterly wrong decision to shoot into an empty net after the English goalkeeper swayed in the fresh air to attempt a clearance.
England stepped up the pressure once again with Katie Robinson providing new legs on offense while being another person to win their first senior cap. However, despite their possession of the ball, they were unable to create a clear opportunity and had to settle for a draw to complete their year.