The Arsenal winger’s deft finish in the 17th minute proved to be enough on an historic night to secure a vital three points for England in the opening game of the tournament.
The flow of play was slightly stunted compared to the efficient England of late but the host nation delivered when it mattered against a defensively strong Group A opponent.
England started to apply pressure after 10 minutes as Lauren Hemp fired a left cross into the box that was just too high for Ellen White to get any power behind.
Georgia Stanway strided forward with a confident run on 16 minutes but it was Mead who claimed the tournament’s first goal as her own a minute later with a clever touch over Manuela Zinsberger to put England ahead.
A touch-and-go call as to whether the ball fully crossed the line before Austria’s Carina Wenninger hooked it away brought VAR into play before referee Marta Huerta de Aza confirmed the goal to officially make it 1-0.
England were now on the front foot and a quick pass by Fran Kirby to Hemp saw White fishing for her 51st goal for the Lionesses but she was unable to deliver as her header went wide.
Austria found themselves victim to some brilliant build-up play by England before the half finished but were able to deny Sarina Wiegman’s team at the final hurdle on multiple occasions.
Irene Fuhrmann’s team chased their first goal in the 43rd minute, but Verena Hanshaw missed the opportunity as she put the ball over the crossbar.
There was then almost a moment of extra-time excitement for Hemp but a difficult pass from Kirby meant that Zinsberger was able to produce a fine save and keep her team safe.
After a stunted and slightly wasteful first-half for both sides, it was Austria who started stronger after the break as Nicole Billa almost got a chip past Mary Earps.
And they kept up a strong defence as Kirby had her first shot at goal in the 52nd minute yet she couldn’t find the power to finish it.
Katharina Naschenweng made a strong and clean strike from the left after 56 minutes but went clear of the goal and created no real danger for Earps.
Substitute Alessia Russo nearly brought the needed change in the 71st minute as she was left unmarked six yards out from the goal but the Manchester United player was unable to get a clean strike on the ball to capitalise.
Chloe Kelly kept the energy high with a bolt down the right but fired from too far out before Barbara Dunst gave Earps her first save of the game with a lovely strike on target for Austria.
But the clock ran out at 1-0 as both teams suffered tired legs and first outing nerves in the opening game of the tournament.
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