England 1-2 Germany: Lionesses need to build on unique, refreshing support if they want to be a success

A record 77,768 fans were packed into Wembley Stadium (Twitter: Lionesses)
20:07pm, Sat 09 Nov 2019
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Never has an England defeat felt more like a win than at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening.

Aside from the obvious positive that there were 77,768 in attendance - a record for the Lionesses - there was a feeling around the ground that was a little different from both men's and women's games that have come before.

The atmosphere prior to the match had a family feel to it - a refreshing change from the intimidating environment which many associate with football crowds.

And there was also a frustration in the air after England's slow start which showed sceptics who were unsure about the passion of all those at the game that the fans were not there to simply make up the numbers.

Alexandra Popp's header after just nine minutes threatened to dampen the spirits of all those in the stands aside from the small, flag-waving pocket of travelling German supporters who were making themselves known throughout.

But the Lionesses began to grow into the game, and although Nikita Parris' penalty was saved, Wembley did not have long to wait before they were allowed to erupt.

It was fitting that it would be Ellen White - the face of England's World Cup journey - who would score the equaliser.

The celebrations were befitting of a team who are enjoying having a nation well and truly behind them, while playing with a smile on their face in a way which shows they do not yet have the pressure or past failings which have hampered their fellow countrymen for so many decades.

You would have thought Germany's late, dramatic winner would have deterred the home fans from the jubilant voice they had been in all game.

But it didn't. The Lionesses were cheered off the field to rapturous applause from all corners of the country's national stadium - a wonderful sentiment which capped off an entertaining 90 minutes of football.

If there is a burning desire among English fans to see their side lift trophies then questions will have to be asked of the team's post-World Cup hangover which has culminated in just one win from seven games.

And while Phil Neville continues to assure everyone that they are improving, he will need the results to show that as they gear up to host Euro 2021.

However, while the team struggles to crack the semi-final glass ceiling which seems to have thwarted many an England team over the past few tournaments, there is no doubting off the field they seem to have scaled new heights.

There has been a breakthrough in women's football which has been felt across England in 2019, one which was typified by the carnival-like reception that the players basked in on Saturday evening.

The real test now is whether or not Neville and co can build on that positive energy and turn ticket sales into trophies.