His rivals filled the nets. England also showed that they can.

BRIGHTON, England. As the goals rained down, the first two in the first 15 minutes, then two more in quick succession, then two more on top of those, all before half-time, it was hard not to think that England was sending the signal.

His first win this summer Women’s European Football Championship was a satisfactory enough, solid if unimpressive first step towards the grand prize, which he never won. But while the Lionesses only scored one goal, England’s arch-rivals for the title were filling the gates and raising the stakes.

Norway scored four goals in the first leg. Spain and Germany quickly did the same. After France fired five shots past Italy on Sunday, maybe, just maybe, host country felt he needed to show that he was capable of the same.

So, England scored eight points.

In a tournament boasting rivals but little clarity less than a week later, England thrashed Norway 8-0 on Monday night, played on a warm night in front of an enthusiastic crowd in a resort town on the country’s south coast. most unexpected result.

Women’s football in Europe is changing rapidly, but matches between the best teams remain so rare that it can sometimes be difficult to judge which teams are pulling ahead. A great player doesn’t make a great team. A great team doesn’t necessarily need a great player. And given that clashes between the great powers have been rare and rare (the last Euro was in 2017, an eternity in the ongoing evolution of women’s football on the continent), data remains hard to come by. After all, there is much to be learned from a one-sided victory. BUT 20-0 win reveals even less.

Spain arrived at this tournament as one of the favorites but quickly saw their hopes dashed by the loss of Alexia Putellas, the best player in the world, to a knee injury. France left two of their best players at home. Germany brought depth, but no famous stars.

England vs. Norway was supposed to be completely different: a real test of strong teams, a rare meeting of equals. And then it wasn’t.

“Of course, everyone feels devastated by the way we looked today,” Norway coach Martin Sjögren told reporters after the game. “I really, really feel terrible about the players, being there and being beaten 8-0 by England in a game that we have been looking forward to for quite some time.

“We had a good feeling before the game. We thought we had a good plan and started the game according to the plan. I think we played well for the first 10 minutes. But then, after that, the last 80, 85 minutes were more or less terrible, to be honest.”

Georgia Stanway opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a penalty after Ellen White was knocked down from the 18-yard box. Three minutes later, Lauren Hemp scored a double with a cross from Beth Meade. After that, the goals were blurred. White, having undressed the defender, was the first to go after her alone. Mid got her way with her first header in the 34th minute and her second in the 38th minute with accurate close-quarters footwork.

White had the crowd and her teammates holding their heads with their hands as she landed her second and sixth England shot, sliding on the rear post in the 41st minute. But England weren’t finished yet: Alessia Russo replaced Whyte in the 57th minute and nine minutes later she was also on the score sheet.

After that, Norway went into the back five, but it hardly mattered. By the time England received No. 8, with Mead completing her hat-trick after rebounding, the Norwegians ended the evening: Ada Hegerberg, dominant forward who never sniffed the goal and playmaker Caroline Graham Hansen had already been recalled to live to fight another day. Shortly thereafter, Guro Reiten, the cunning wing, left.

“We made it too easy for them,” Sjögren said, “by losing the ball in dangerous places. We made some very, very serious mistakes.”

It was hardly the result that any of the teams expected. Both countries opened the tournament exactly the way they wanted: England started by beating Austria in front of nearly 69,000 fans, the biggest crowd ever to see a women’s Euro match, and Norway debuted a day later by beating the northern team with a score of 4:1. Ireland. Like England’s one-goal win, Norway’s wider lead somehow failed to convey how dominant the winners were.

The meeting was a rarity in this tournament: a meeting of equally respected teams, teams that exchanged victories in the last meetings, seemed like a good game.

England have knocked Norway out of the last two World Cups, including a 3-0 win in the 2019 quarter-finals in France. But this was a very different Norway: talented, yes, but missing the predatory Hegerberg, who left her national team for several years in protest at what she considered second-rate treatment from the country’s football federation.

An extended break due to a knee injury earlier this year has changed attitudes, and her return has changed expectations for both her and her country.

They remain beaten as they are. But Monday was England’s night, from start to finish, finish and finish.