BETH MEAD admitted she was struggling for words as her first-half strike ensured England made a winning start to Women’s Euro 2022 at Old Trafford last night.

The Whitby-born striker lofted home a deft 16th-minute finish as England saw off Austria 1-0 in front of more than 68,000 supporters, a record attendance for a game at a Women’s European Championships.

Mead, who started her career in Middlesbrough’s academy and made her breakthrough with Sunderland Ladies, created history earlier this year when she became the first woman to score an international hat-trick at Wembley.

And she was at it again last night as her finish from Fran Kirby’s through ball ensured England extended their unbeaten run under manager Sarina Wiegman to 15 matches, the longest unbeaten run in their history.

“It’s beyond words,” said Mead, whose winning goal was awarded thanks to the help of goalline technology, with Austrian defender Carina Wenninger having attempted to hack clear from underneath her own crossbar. “What an amazing night to start the tournament with a win.

“I’m really happy to get a goal for the team. I was pretty sure (the ball had crossed the line), but you always doubt yourself when a bit of time passes.”

Mead was joined by the rest of her team-mates in a huddle on the Old Trafford turf after the final whistle, with Wiegman delivering some post-match words to her players.

However, with Old Trafford having turned into a giant post-match party venue, in a manner reminiscent of the men’s Euros matches at Wembley last summer, the North Yorkshire forward admits it was hard to hear what was being said.

“I’d like to tell you we could hear what she was saying, but it’s so loud we just couldn’t hear,” said Mead. “We were all into Sweet Caroline. She’ll probably have the debrief in the dressing room, but just listen to the atmosphere, it’s unbelievable.”

England were much the better side in the first half of last night’s game, with Ellen White and Lauren Hemp both coming close to extending the lead.

Their dominance was less marked in the second period, but they restricted their opponents to a handful of long-range efforts and while Wiegman admits there are things to work on, the England boss was delighted to have made a winning start.

“It’s so important to win the first game in a tournament and have a good start,” said Wiegman. “We have shown different phases – some good, some not so good. We should have scored a couple of times and made it easier, but overall I’m really happy. Don’t underestimate Austria – they’re a good, strong, organised team.

“It’s hard to say (if nerves had an effect). We wanted to start well, but we didn’t keep the ball well enough. We scored a good goal and had some more chances – overall, I’m just happy.”