England booked their place at the 2023 Women’s World Cup with one game to spare after defeating Austria in their first game since winning Euro 2022.
Alessia Russo – starting in place of Ellen White, who announced her retirement after Euro 2022 – set the Lionesses on their way with an instinctive finish.
Substitute Nikita Parris doubled the lead with a fierce finish from inside the box.
England only needed a point to make sure of a place at next year’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
Austria were lively and caused problems, with Mary Earps producing a fine stop to deny Laura Feiersinger from equalising in the second half before Parris made it 2-0.
The Lionesses, however, got the job done before their final game of the qualifying campaign against Luxembourg in Stoke on Tuesday (19:30 BST).
England can start planning for next summer
The last time the Lionesses were in action, on 31 July, there were joyous scenes as they celebrated being crowned European champions in front of 87,192 at Wembley.
On Saturday, just a few dozen England supporters were inside the Stadion Wiener Neustadt to witness an 18th win in 21 games under Sarina Wiegman.
The England boss can now start planning for next summer’s World Cup after a ninth win in nine qualifying games sent the Group D leaders eight points clear of second-placed Austria with one round of games remaining.
England had scored 68 times without reply in their previous eight qualifying matches, and it did not take them long to add another as Russo produced a clever finish in the seventh minute after Lauren Hemp had connected with Alex Greenwood’s cross.
Austria, who will now compete in the play-offs, looked lively and caused problems after England made three changes to the side that started at Wembley.
Early in the second half, Mary Earps was fortunate to escape after Julia Hickelsberger closed down the England keeper and got a touch before the ball rolled narrowly wide of the post.
But with Millie Bright and Leah Williamson once again dominant at the back, the team clocked up another clean sheet on their way to a victory that was confirmed by Parris’s thumping finish.
Parris had only been on the pitch for a few minutes when she found the top left corner after being played in by Georgia Stanway.
Parris’ contribution shows depth and talent
England have now joined the likes of the United States, Brazil, South Africa, Sweden and France as qualifiers for the World Cup, which will take place between 20 July and 20 August.
Will it be another glorious summer for the Lionesses?
There is no doubt that White is a big loss, but Russo was busy and marked her start with a neat finish, which will help cement her place in Wiegman’s starting plans.
The England boss has 10 months to fine-tune her squad before much sterner tests next summer.
But Parris’ important contribution after coming off the bench shows the depth and talent in the squad despite the loss of White and Jill Scott, who has also retired from football.
- 10FeiersingerSubstituted forHöbingerat 88′minutes
- 18Hickelsberger-FüllerSubstituted forNaschenwengat 69′minutes
- 15BillaSubstituted forWienerroitherat 80′minutes
- 8DunstSubstituted forKolbat 88′minutes
- 23El Sherif
- 2BronzeSubstituted forDalyat 85′minutes
- 6WilliamsonSubstituted forCarterat 79′minutes
- 10TooneSubstituted forJamesat 79′minutes
- 7MeadSubstituted forParrisat 62′minutes
- 9RussoSubstituted forEnglandat 62′minutes
- Iuliana Elena Demetrescu
Match ends, Austria Women 0, England 2.
Second Half ends, Austria Women 0, England 2.
Attempt saved. Marina Georgieva (Austria Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Foul by Lauren Hemp (England).
Laura Wienroither (Austria Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, England. Conceded by Carina Wenninger.
Substitution, Austria Women. Marie-Therese Höbinger replaces Laura Feiersinger.
Substitution, Austria Women. Lisa Kolb replaces Barbara Dunst.
Attempt blocked. Barbara Dunst (Austria Women) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Laura Feiersinger.
Substitution, England. Rachel Daly replaces Lucy Bronze.
Foul by Jessica Carter (England).
Katja Wienerroither (Austria Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt blocked. Barbara Dunst (Austria Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Laura Feiersinger.
Attempt missed. Bethany England (England) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Nikita Parris with a cross.
Substitution, Austria Women. Katja Wienerroither replaces Nicole Billa.
Substitution, England. Jessica Carter replaces Leah Williamson.
Substitution, England. Lauren James replaces Ella Toone.
Offside, England. Keira Walsh tries a through ball, but Nikita Parris is caught offside.
Corner, England. Conceded by Marina Georgieva.
Attempt missed. Laura Feiersinger (Austria Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.