Wiegman takes aim at set pieces for 'frustrating' France defeat

Sarina Wiegman defended her England players but blamed set pieces for a first home qualifying defeat in more than 20 years at the hands of France in a 2-1 loss.

Needing victory to leapfrog their opponents into top spot in their Euro 2025 qualifying group, Beth Mead’s goal got England off to the perfect start.

But a pair of goals from corners in either half saw France leave with victory – just as they did in October 2002, when they were the last team to beat England in a qualifying game away from home.

Wiegman was satisfied with England’s performance despite the result, but less impressed with their decision-making in the final third or poor set-piece defending, which could have made the scoreline worse had Maelle Lakrar not seen a first-half header saved.

“It was frustrating,” she told ITV Sport. “I think we played pretty well, we conceded two goals from set plays which we have to do a lot better on.

“In these matches, you don’t get too many chances. In the first half we created multiple, but only scored one – and they unfortunately scored one too.

“We were more on the ball in the second half without creating too many more chances, but we were dangerous. The final pass needed to be better.

Beth Mead celebrates with Lauren Hemp after her opener
Beth Mead put England ahead on the half-hour mark from Lauren Hemp’s cross

“We know France are really good at set-pieces. Of course, we were prepared but they still got that time. The first half was unlucky, I think Hemp was bombarded but the second one, she got a little more space and finished it well too.”

England captain Leah Williamson was left equally irritated by the Lionesses’ fragility from dead balls, and the impact they had on a first defeat in six matches for her side.

“Really disappointed, the game was there to be won,” she said. “It was a fantastic occasion, the fans have never let us down so it’s a shame not to give them a win as well.

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England’s Ella Toone says the players are disappointed after their defeat to France but will learn lessons from the performance and mistakes that were made.

“Two set pieces and second balls. We played well, not good enough to win the game, but the chances were there to win it. Two set pieces have killed us. There’s an element of luck to those things, but first contact and second contact need to be better. We will be better on Tuesday.”

England took the lead despite a disrupted opening period, with restored No 1 Mary Earps injured inside the opening minute and eventually forced off despite attempting to play through the pain barrier.

The Man Utd goalkeeper’s condition has yet to be determined but she was seen on crutches on the pitch following the full-time whistle.

Mary Earps was pictured on crutches after the game, having been forced off inside the opening 10 minutes with a leg injury
Mary Earps was pictured on crutches after the game, having been forced off inside the opening 10 minutes with a leg injury

“It was a strange start with that first ball where Mary got injured,” said Wiegman. “It took about five minutes, then she went down again and had to come off. It wasn’t the way we were expecting it!

“We had to get organised again, then we got it and started playing a lot better. I can’t say anything [about the injury] because I haven’t spoken to anyone after the game.”

What are the other Euro 2025 qualifying dates?

Qualifying matchdays one and two: April 3-9

Qualifying matchday four: June 4

Qualifying matchdays five and six: July 10-16

Play-off draw: July 19

Play-off round one (two legs): October 23-29

Play-off round two (two legs): November 27-December 3

Euro 2025 finals draw: December 16

Euro 2025 finals: July 2-27 2025

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