England 1-1 Sweden: Russo header earns England a point at Wembley against spirited Sweden

Name a duo more iconic than Alessia Russo and scoring against Sweden. In 2022, a then 23-year-old Russo netted a stunning backheeled finish to guide the Lionesses through to the final of EURO2022 on home soil.

But just under two years on, her early header at Wembley Stadium was merely enough for a draw. Her goal came just before the half-hour mark and was the end product of a prolonged spell of English dominance, yet the Lionesses’ inability to make their chances count left Sarina Wiegman’s side settling for just a point – as Fridolina Rolfö netted a header of her own in the second half to restore parity.

As it happened

With 63,248 fans in attendance for the first match of their EURO2025 qualifying campaign, and the only one to be played in London, the Lionesses were forced to endure a scrappy start to proceedings under the arch on Friday.

CREDIT: Kerrie Jacobs-Bryant [FromTheSpot]

A lengthy stoppage came after just four minutes, with a seemingly innocuous challenge from Magdalena Eriksson prompting a prolonged period of attention for England’s Alessia Russo – though the Arsenal forward was able to continue, seemingly after a change of socks.

But the resulting free-kick, when it was finally taken, would afford the hosts their first chance of the match. A teasing ball whipped in by Alex Greenwood was flicked back to Grace Clinton on the edge of the area; her finish flew wildly over the crossbar.

England continued to manufacture a number of half-chances as the evening went on, with Clinton influential in the centre of the park and Lauren Hemp proving to be a relentless force on the right. Yet despite the signs of promise, it would take an alteration to that system – and Hemp swapping flanks with Lauren James – for the Lionesses to open the scoring.

Just minutes after switching to take care of proceedings on the right, James found herself with room to float a well-placed ball across the face of goal. It was met by Russo at the far post, with the Gunners star diving in front of Hanna Lundkvist to send a headed effort past Jennifer Falk.

CREDIT: Kerrie Jacobs-Bryant [FromTheSpot]

It was a goal that served to motivate the Blågult though, with Peter Gerhardsson’s side growing into the match in terms of creativity. Kosovare Asllani saw a near-post attempt blocked well by Mary Earps, and Manchester City’s Filippa Angeldahl was perhaps unlucky to send her shot over the target after being played in by Stina Blackstenius.

Chances were few and far between as the teams re-emerged from the half-time break, although the hosts began to test Falk again as the hour mark approached. The BK Häcken goalkeeper was called upon twice within the space of as many minutes, claiming a Bronze header before rushing to beat Georgia Stanway to a ball from the midfield.

But against the run of play, the Blågult would draw level. Barcelona’s Fridalina Rolfö capitalised on a sleeping England defence, ghosting in beyond Bronze at the back post to nod the leveller through Earps’ legs. It looked as though Sweden would complete the comeback merely moments later, although Blackstenius inexplicably rolled wide of the target after a rapid break left her 1v1 with Earps.

CREDIT: Kerrie Jacobs-Bryant [FromTheSpot]

England’s hopes looked to be fading away rapidly, with Hemp stretching in a desperate attempt to latch onto a deep cross from Beth Mead on the right flank – albeit to no avail. Desperation began to sink in, and the duo would barely be able to believe their misfortune when Falk denied each of them again in the dying minutes.

Sarina Wiegman’s side were ultimately forced to settle for a stalemate at Wembley Stadium. The Lionesses will be keen to return to winning ways when they face the Republic of Ireland at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Tuesday.

The lineups

ENG: Earps; Charles, Greenwood, Wubben-Moy, Bronze; Stanway, Walsh; Hemp, Clinton, James; Russo

SWE: Falk; Andersson, Eriksson, Sembrant, Lundkvist; Zigiotti Olme, Asllani, Angeldahl; Rolfö, Blackstenius, Rytting Kaneryd