England defender Lucy Bronze has said she did not expect to make 100 international appearances “in a million years” after reaching the landmark for England in a 0-0 draw against the Czech Republic in Brighton.
Bronze earned her century of caps as part of a dominant display by the Lionesses, who hit the post twice via full debutant Lauren James and Lauren Hemp as they failed to find a way past a determined Czech team.
“There aren’t too many players who can say they’ve done that,” said Bronze, calling her caps total “pretty amazing”.
“I’ve played alongside players like Fara Williams, Jill Scott, Karen Carney, Kelly Smith – these players that hit 100.
“I always thought, ‘wow that’s an amazing achievement’. Never in a million years did I think I’d put my name alongside those kinds of players on the list.”
The result in front of an attendance of 21,222 meant that England failed to win for the first time since a 0-0 draw against Spain in the Arnold Cup Clark in February, while the Czech Republic extended their unbeaten run to four matches.
Brilliant Bronze brings up her century
More than nine years after making her England debut against Japan, Lucy Bronze became the cap centurion she thought she would never be with a typically enterprising display on the right.
Always available on the flank, Bronze’s perceptive passing, arrowed runs towards the penalty area and confident defensive work were a feature of the first half as England searched for an opener against opponents keen to impress the largest audience many of them had ever played in front of.
Simona Necidova raced in to whip the ball away just in time on one occasion when Bronze burst into the box, while an excellent crossfield delivery from Fran Kirby would have set her free beyond her marker had the Barcelona newcomer not lost her footing.
Bronze was also assured and accurate in her crossing, with her only moment of concern coming when she was floored by a robust challenge at the touchline before rising to her feet to demand the ball.
Reflecting on her career this week, Bronze revealed that she had been told as a 20-year-old to expect her career to last a maximum of seven more years because of four severe knee injuries that had left her unable to run as a teenager.
Had a crystal ball given her a glimpse into the future, Bronze would have seen herself as the reigning England Player of the Year on her 28th birthday, as well as an imminent Champions League winner with Lyon, among other trophies.
The move Bronze made to Barcelona only seems likely to enhance her determination and keep her standards as high as this dependably brilliant player’s standing in the game.
“People keep asking me what’s next, can I catch up with Jill [Scott, 161 caps] and Fara [Williams, 172 caps] but I think they’re miles off.
“I just want to keep playing for England as long as possible. I feel good in this team and I’m playing well. A hundred more? Maybe that’s too much, but I just keep going.”
Remaining an England mainstay for the rest of Wiegman’s reign is the least we should expect from Bronze. She has spoken of emulating Brazil legend Formiga by playing until 43 – and on current form and fitness, that seems merely ambitious rather than outlandish.
Compact Czechs cause conundrum
The Czech Republic were always going to provide a markedly different proposition to the challenge England faced in their 2-1 win over the USA at Wembley on Friday.
Guided by former international Karel Rada, the visitors were unbeaten in three matches and had shared a 3-3 draw at home to Hungary on Friday, including a hat-trick from Sevilla’s Andrea Staskova.
Tereza Szewieczkova, who started, had scored twice when her side took the lead against England before losing to an 86th-minute goal in 2019, and the visitors immediately subdued the atmosphere by going close.
England could not have come any nearer to scoring, hitting the post twice and seeing Olivie Lukasova and her defenders repeatedly thwart their attempts to find the net.
Had they scored through that early chance for James, Wiegman believes the match would have become much more open.
The England manager acknowledged that she could have picked easier opposition but wanted her players to test themselves against teams who would shut down space and provide significant resistance.
“We knew they would drop a little deeper,” said Wiegman. “That’s what they did and we have to do a little better in those situations. For us, it is a very good learning moment.
“I hoped we would have broken down their defence more easily. We tried to do that but we didn’t. We have to be better in possession in small spaces.
“We can expect opponents in the future who are tight, very physical and drop deeper. We could easily play opponents where we know we’re going to win but we have to be uncomfortable, too.”
- 5BrightSubstituted forMorganat 62′minutes
- 3StokesSubstituted forDalyat 82′minutes
- 7KellySubstituted forMeadat 45′minutes
- 11JamesSubstituted forSalmonat 63′minutes
- 5SlajsováSubstituted forDlaskováat 75′minutes
- 11KrejciríkováSubstituted forMartínkováat 75′minutes
- 17SzewieczkováSubstituted forKhýrováat 57′minutes
- 9StaskováSubstituted forMrázováat 75′minutes
Match ends, England 0, Czech Republic Women 0.
Second Half ends, England 0, Czech Republic Women 0.
Attempt blocked. Beth Mead (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lauren Hemp.
Corner, England. Conceded by Simona Necidová.
Attempt blocked. Lauren Hemp (England) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Corner, England. Conceded by Petra Bertholdová.
Attempt blocked. Beth Mead (England) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Fran Kirby.
Corner, England. Conceded by Kamila Dubcová.
Corner, England. Conceded by Olivie Lukásová.
Attempt saved. Fran Kirby (England) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Foul by Ebony Salmon (England).
Miroslava Mrázová (Czech Republic Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, England. Rachel Daly replaces Demi Stokes.
Corner, England. Conceded by Olivie Lukásová.
Attempt saved. Beth Mead (England) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alex Greenwood.
Corner, Czech Republic Women. Conceded by Beth Mead.
Corner, England. Conceded by Eliška Sonntágová.
Substitution, Czech Republic Women. Miroslava Mrázová replaces Andrea Stasková.
Substitution, Czech Republic Women. Lucie Martínková replaces Tereza Krejciríková.
Substitution, Czech Republic Women. Anna Dlasková replaces Gabriela Slajsová.