Sarina Wiegman said Beth Mead’s Wembley hat-trick was “special and very memorable” as England maintained their flawless start to the FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a 4-0 win over Northern Ireland.
The Arsenal forward was left out of the Great Britain Olympic team in the summer, but made history as the first woman to score a hat-trick for England at the new Wembley, which came in less than 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
The visitors had defended resolutely at Wembley and put their bodies on the line until Mead’s introduction but she scored with her first touch just moments after coming onto the field, a brilliant finish on the turn past goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns.
Another substitute, Bethany England, scored the Lionesses’ second with the final touch on Lauren Hemp’s goalbound cross-shot.
Mead then volleyed home Hemp’s cross at the back post before tapping into an empty net in the 78th minute to bring up her hat-trick.
“That’s an experience she will never forget and we will never forget because that’s so special and she hadn’t touched the ball once and she came on and we had a corner and she scored,” Wiegman said.
“It wasn’t really easy to score because she was with her back to the goal and then within 14 minutes she had another two goals so that’s really special and very memorable.”
Hemp believes Wiegman’s introduction has lifted the team, which exited at the semi-final stage of the 2019 World Cup.
“It (the team chemistry) is really good, as you’ve seen from the previous games we’re scoring goals, we’re creating lots of chances, being patient on the ball and it’s come from Sarina and I think it’ll only keep improving and hopefully the results will show going forward,” Hemp said.
“It’s an exciting time to be part of the women’s football team, especially with the Euros and the World Cup coming up.”
Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels credited his side’s preparation and defensive qualities after they kept England at bay for 64 minutes before Mead’s introduction, although the result brought an end to their eight-match winning run in competitive games.
“I thought tactically we were outstanding, our preparation was so good,” said Shiels, who hailed the “desire and the comradeship” shown by his side.
“We felt that Ellen White was going to be a major player for them and we did our preparation for that one.
“Sarah McFadden was outstanding in that role so let’s take that as a fantastic performance from her, and the other players at the back.”