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Beth Mead scored the only goal of the game as hosts England beat Austria 1-0 in front of a tournament-record crowd of 68,871 at Old Trafford in Wednesday’s Women’s European Championship opener.

Mead expertly flicked the ball past Austria goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger in the 16th minute, but goal-line technology was needed to prove it had crossed the line before it was cleared.

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England's Beth Mead celebrates the opening goal during the women's Euro 2022 soccer match between England and Austria at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

England’s Beth Mead celebrates the opening goal during the women’s Euro 2022 soccer match between England and Austria at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Wednesday, July 6, 2022.
(AP via Martin Rickett/PA)

“What a fantastic night, it’s great to start the tournament with a win and I’m delighted to get a goal for my team,” Mead told the BBC. “I’m pretty sure it crossed (the line), but you can always doubt yourself.”

The narrow margin of victory reflected a close game in which England dominated but could not create enough clear-cut chances to match their pre-tournament victories over the likes of Belgium, Denmark and defending champions the Netherlands.

The 16-team tournament started a year later than originally scheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It hopes to further boost the fast-growing audience for women’s soccer in Europe, and UEFA says more than 500,000 tickets have been sold. The previous record attendance for a European Championship game was 41,301 for the 2013 final between Germany and Norway at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

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England's Beth Mead, center, Ellen White, left, and Georgia Stanway celebrate after scoring the opening goal during the Women's Euro 2022 soccer match between England and Austria at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

England’s Beth Mead, center, Ellen White, left, and Georgia Stanway celebrate after scoring the opening goal during the Women’s Euro 2022 soccer match between England and Austria at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Wednesday, July 6, 2022.
(AP Photo/Ruy Vieira)

Since the last tournament in 2017, England has been at the forefront of that development as Women’s Super League clubs have signed many of the world’s best players and increased revenue and TV audiences. Now the England national team, unbeaten in 15 games over the past year, is still seeking its first major tournament title.

Austria was a surprise semifinalist in its previous appearance at the 2017 European Championship, scoring one goal in five games and losing only in a penalty shootout.

Austria were denied a point on Wednesday when England goalkeeper Mary Earps made a full dive to stop Barbara Dunst’s dangerous curling shot in the 78th.

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Girls wave flags on the pitch during the opening ceremony before the Women's Euro 2022 opening soccer match between England and Austria at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

Girls wave flags on the pitch during the opening ceremony before the Women’s Euro 2022 opening soccer match between England and Austria at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Wednesday, July 6, 2022.
(AP Photo/Ruy Vieira)

England had earlier scored more when Ellen White headed wide in the 26th and Ginsberger responded quickly to block Lauren Hemp’s effort in first-half stoppage time.

“We should have scored a couple of times to make it easier, but overall I’m very happy. We got the win and don’t underestimate Austria – they’re a very well-organised team,” England manager Sarina Wigman, who coached the Netherlands to the 2017 title, told the BBC. “I’m not disappointed, I think we can do better. Sometimes we rushed. In the last stage we need to calm down a bit.”