Three months and six games on from victory in a World Cup quarter-final, England finally have another win.

Tuesday’s laboured 1-0 friendly success over Portugal in Lisbon ended a five-game winless run – including World Cup semi-final and third-place play-off defeats, as well as friendly losses to and Brazil.

It was the result England boss Phil Neville craved in what he called a “must-win” game, but with a showcase match at next month and a home Euros looming, the emphasis now has to be on improving performances.

The Lionesses host on 9 November at the national stadium with 77,000 tickets sold for what will be the highest attended women’s match ever in England.

It’s an opportunity to spotlight their talents, but are England in a place to capitalise?

They had conceded nine goals since the defeat by the USA before the victory over Portugal – England’s first clean sheet since a 3-0 win over in France.

And earlier this week, Neville said the focus was solely on getting a result in order to end the “period of suffering” and insisted he was not feeling “vulnerable” about his position as manager.

The women’s game in England has attempted to capitalise on the Lionesses’ run at the World Cup, when a record-breaking 11.7m watched the semi-final loss to the USA on the BBC.

Attendances have risen across the Women’s Super League and a new record was set on the opening weekend at Etihad Stadium as beat rivals in front of 31,000 fans.

On top of that, more games are being played at men’s stadiums – welcomed 24,564 supporters with free tickets to Stamford Bridge in September.

As Euro 2021 hosts, England are not playing competitive qualifiers, and while that has perhaps contributed to flat performances since the summer, the poor results could threaten to dampen the initial buzz felt by a new audience after the World Cup.

Many of those 77,000 ticket-buyers for the game at in November will hope to see the England performances which helped them to win the SheBelieves Cup for the first time in March.

But , ranked second in the world, will pose a much bigger threat than an improving Portugal side did in Lisbon.

And there will be the added pressure of a record crowd watching on a day which Neville described as “probably the greatest occasion women’s football has had in this country”.

England legends like Alex Scott, Karen Carney, Sue Smith and Kelly Smith have all been invited to Wembley to celebrate their roles in inspiring a new generation.

When asked if a good performance is needed to make the most of this opportunity to showcase the women’s game, Neville told BBC Sport he “wants a result and a performance”.

Lucy Bronze

“We want to put on a good show,” he said. “It’s a celebration of not just the World Cup but a celebration of how far [the game has progressed that] this generation of footballers from 20, 30, 40 years ago have all fought for.

“And the most important thing for us is to perform on the pitch against a really good team in Germany, who are in qualification mode.

“We know when teams come to Wembley they will raise their game and what I want to see from my players is the ability to perform under pressure and play the type of football that everybody wants to see.”

Former Arsenal and Scott told BBC TV that England “will need a massive improvement against Germany”.

“The history is there against Germany and you are playing with the crowd there,” said Scott. “This [result against Portugal] will help them know they have to put on a performance.”

Even in victory on Tuesday night the England players walked off the pitch less spirited than they had been before the summer.

But there were positives to draw on – a first start for in-form Bethany England and an energetic, though short-lived debut for Lauren Hemp.

And the performance picked up in the final 20 minutes following the introduction of Jordan Nobbs and Jodie Taylor.

Neville has spoken of “a two-year plan” to prepare for Euro 2021 but a packed-out Wembley will be keen to see more of those improvements.

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC in 2019, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.


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