Brighton and Hove, England, 11th July 2022. Fans hold up signs saying GOAL as Lauren Hemp of England celebrates after scoring to make it 2-0 during the UEFA Women s European Championship, EM, Europameisterschaft 2022 match at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton and Hove. Picture credit should read: Paul Terry / Sportimage PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK SPI-1744-0077

To understand the significance of that warm night on England’s south coast, one had to look at Ellen White, for example. At 33, the Manchester City forward is England’s oldest regular, has over 100 caps and is her country’s record goalscorer, but after beating Norway 8-0 in the second round of the European Championship, she jumped across the stadium’s lawn Brighton as a teenager who had received permission from his parents to go to the disco for the first time.

White had contributed two goals to the highest success ever at a European Championship, including men’s tournaments, and she was involved in two other goals. She dispelled the doubts that had recently existed about her person. Many observers felt coach Sarina Wiegman should favor the younger Alessia Russo or Bethany England up front.

The gala against Norway was a liberation for White, as evidenced by her celebrations, and it was a liberation for the England selection. After the tough 1-0 start against Austria, the team achieved what is known in the technical jargon as a “statement victory”. With the dismantling of the star squad from Scandinavia around ex-world footballer Ada Hegerberg, England met the high expectations of the home crowd at the European Championship and positioned themselves as the top favorites for the title.

No, even more: The Brighton night surpassed the most beautiful fantasies and should mean that the euphoria in the country can hardly be captured. Anything other than the European Championship victory on July 31 at Wembley Stadium should be counted as a failure after the brilliant performance against Norway.

Coach Wiegman knows how to maneuver a team successfully through a tournament on home soil, she coached the home team to the title at Euro 2017 in the Netherlands. After the 8-0 win in Brighton, which brought England into the quarter-finals as group winners before the final preliminary round match against Northern Ireland, she tried to curb the euphoria. “It’s only three points. It doesn’t make a difference whether you win 1-0 or 8-0,” she said, but she wasn’t immune to the impact of the experience either.

“If you’re already leading 6-0 at the break, it can happen that all the players do their own thing afterwards. But that didn’t happen. I’m very happy with the performance,” she said, appearing happier than she’s ever been since taking office last fall.

It was a success for Wiegman’s taste. In addition to the result, she was pleased with the way it came about. One of her main concerns is to make England less dependent on goalscorer White’s goals and to inculcate a ruthlessness in dealing with chances. Against Norway, the selection showed the desired efficiency in perfection that was not thought possible and put their entire offensive power on display.

Beth Mead excelled with three goals and an assist, Lauren Hemp, England’s potential best player, scored one goal and set up another, while substitute Alessia Russo also made his mark with a goal. “The threats are now spread all over the pitch,” wrote the Guardian of an England team where many players can make all the difference.

The reactions to the record victory were characterized by two feelings, namely euphoria – and sheer disbelief. “At half-time I thought: What’s going on here?” reported coach Wiegman, who had prepared for “a close game”. “She may have wondered if she’d been out in the sun too long that sweltering evening,” the Times surmised.

The “Telegraph” described the event as a game “beyond the wildest dreams” and judged: “The performance was as close to perfection as it is possible for a team in England jerseys.” The challenge in the further course of the European Championship is there in living up to the standards the team set with the South Shore gala.