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Ella Toone scored a late winner for England as they came from two goals down to beat the Netherlands in a crucial Women’s Nations League tie, keeping alive Team GB’s hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Games.

England 3-2 Netherlands: Ella Toone scores late winner in crucial Women's Nations League tie
England 3-2 Netherlands: Ella Toone scores late winner in crucial Women’s Nations League tie

The World Cup runners-up were 2-0 down after 35 minutes when Lineth Beerensteyn punished defensive errors and took advantage of a passive midfield to score twice for the Netherlands.

But England responded through Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp, who netted within two minutes of each other in the second half, before Toone fired in a dramatic late goal and received a roar of celebration from supporters at Wembley Stadium.

On a stage that has produced so many successful moments for the Lionesses, Sarina Wiegman’s side did just enough to edge past a Netherlands team who had outwitted them before the break.

On a bitterly cold evening at Wembley, the Lionesses knew only victory would be enough to keep alive Team GB’s hopes of competing in Paris.

As the nominated nation to qualify on behalf of Team GB, England need to win their Nations League group and reach the final – or finish third if Olympic hosts France make the final – in order to secure a place.

But having already suffered defeats by Belgium and the Netherlands in the competition, England’s hopes were in major doubt and nothing short of victory against Andries Jonker’s side would have been enough at Wembley.

Euro 2022 stars Beth Mead, Alessia Russo and Toone all came off the bench to help inspire a comeback and it was the Manchester United midfielder, who scored the opening goal in that European success at Wembley, who delivered the goods again.

England will qualify for the semi-finals if they beat Scotland on Tuesday and the Netherlands drop points in their final match with Belgium.

However, even if the Netherlands beat Belgium at home, England could still go through if they defeat the Scots by a sufficiently large scoreline to take their goal difference above the Dutch.

England 3-2 Netherlands: Ella Toone scores late winner in crucial Women's Nations League tie
England 3-2 Netherlands: Ella Toone scores late winner in crucial Women’s Nations League tie

Lionesses do enough but job not done
There had been concern about England’s form for several months with criticism even coming during their World Cup campaign, which ended in defeat by Spain in August’s showpiece.

With just two wins in their previous five matches – having lost only once in their first 30 games under Wiegman – pressure was on England to perform.

Their first-half display was nowhere near good enough and they were duly punished by Beerensteyn’s ruthlessness, with Wiegman also paying for some questionable team selections.

Lauren Hemp, making her 50th appearance for the Lionesses, was preferred in central attack over mainstay Russo, while Chelsea centre-back Jess Carter was the chosen replacement for injured club team-mate Millie Bright.

But England were all over the place for the majority of the opening 45 minutes as gaps broke in defence.

The Netherlands were able to carve through the midfield and England’s forwards could not get into the game.

Goalkeeper Mary Earps, wearing the armband in Bright’s absence, was at fault for Beerensteyn’s second goal as she allowed the ball to squeeze between her hands at the near post, after the Dutch striker had got the better of Carter and Lucy Bronze for her opener.

However, a much-needed half-time break seemed to mark a reset for England and Stanway was unmarked in the box when she headed in Lauren James’ curling cross, before Hemp’s low strike beat goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar to make it 2-2.

Wiegman’s wildcards – her substitutions – were all used, including a return for winger Mead for the first time in a year, and it eventually paid off with Toone’s driven strike nestling into the far corner with minutes remaining.

England’s job is still not complete and they travel to Scotland knowing there is still much to do.

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