England beat world champions the United States for the first time since 2017 in front of more than 76,000 fans at Wembley Stadium

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It promised to be a blockbuster fixture and it did not disappoint with VAR drama, goals and a penalty all on show in the friendly.

Manchester City winger Lauren Hemp, filling in as a central striker, put European champions England in front after just 10 minutes.

The USA responded when Sophia Smith fired in an equaliser, but England were awarded a penalty for a high boot on Lucy Bronze after referee Riem Hussein went to check the VAR monitor.

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Georgia Stanway stepped up to make it 2-1, before the USA had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside minutes later.

Chances continued to fall for both sides after the break – the visitors having the best of them – in an open and frantic encounter.

There was further frustration for the USA after they were awarded a penalty for handball in the 81st minute, but referee Hussein once again checked the VAR monitor and overturned her decision.

England instead held on to record a huge victory against their long-standing rivals in their first meeting at the national stadium, and extend their impressive unbeaten run to 23 matches under manager Sarina Wiegman.

It was just the third time England have beaten the USA in 11 meetings – and the first victory since March 2017. The two teams met in the 2019 Women’s World Cup semi-finals when the USA won 2-1.

It also comes 10 months before the 2023 Women’s World Cup which England are bidding to win for the first time, while the USA are hoping to defend their crown for a third successive tournament.

Before kick-off, England showed solidarity with the USA after an inquiry uncovered “systemic” abuse and misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League earlier this week.

Players wore teal armbands during the game, Wembley’s arch was lit in teal and both squads gathered in the middle before kick-off, arm-in-arm in front of a banner saying ‘Protect The Players’.

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This was one of England’s biggest tests so far under Wiegman, and though both teams were missing key players, it was a dress rehearsal for what could come at the World Cup next summer in Australia and New Zealand.

It was pleasing therefore that the fine margins went England’s way in this fixture, when they have suffered so much heartbreak in the past.

Beth Mead’s curling cross was not dealt with by defender Alana Cook and Hemp was able to poke in from close range for England’s opener.

The 22-year-old was playing in a less familiar number nine position because of the absence of injured striker Alessia Russo and she thrived, causing havoc all match and creating numerous chances.

Mead and Chloe Kelly on the opposite wing were also hugely dangerous in an impressive England attack, but Wiegman’s side were also given good fortune.

USA substitute Hailie Mace was shown a yellow card when her high boot caught Bronze in the face, leading to the penalty which Stanway put away to restore England’s narrow lead before half-time.

And VAR twice came to England’s aid when Trinity Rodman’s finish was ruled out after Smith was inches offside in the fluent build-up.

It was another warning sign for England, who were cut open on numerous occasions at the back with Rodman, Megan Rapinoe and Smith all having big chances.

England could have extended their lead too – Stanway fired wide and Bronze struck the side-netting – but the USA thought they had been given a lifeline when the referee blew for handball with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Replays showed the ball deflected off the back of Rachel Daly and the decision was overturned, meaning England were able to hold on to pick up a significant victory in front of 76,893 supporters at Wembley.

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