ELLEN WHITE feels ‘super lucky’ to become an England centurion as the Lionesses thwarted stubborn Austria in a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light.
The forward’s match-winning strike on her 100th game saw her move a goal short of Kelly Smith’s all-time record with the hosts unbeaten in five World Cup qualifiers.
Before the game White – who has netted 45 times for the team – was presented with a special jersey to mark her milestone landmark appearance.
And it was fitting the Manchester City star bagged the winner against the team she scored against during her first senior performance in 2010.
White, 32, said: “It’s come full circle for me in terms of making my debut against Austria and then my 100th cap.
“I’m incredibly proud to have represented the country 100 times.
“I feel super lucky to be part of this team and be surrounded by such talented players and for us to get the win, that was the main goal.
“It was a really tough game in tough conditions and I’m really proud to have helped the team win.”
England’s victory saw them strengthen their grip on pole position in the Group D battle for a 2023 World Cup spot.
And White’s strike saw the Lionesses consign the visitors to their first defeat in the qualifiers with her side yet to concede against any of their rivals.
Sarina Wiegman, 52, added: “I’ve gotten to know Ellen as a real professional player, a terrific team player with the consistency she brings and still she wants to become better every day.
“If you have 100 caps, it means you’ve been so consistent. “You also see that everyone is so happy that she scored.
“But as long as we keep scoring goals then we’re happy and if she will break that record we will be very happy for her.
Wiegman predicted a tougher test for England following their 4-0 defeat of Northern Ireland and 8-0 and 10-0 hammerings of North Macedonia, Latvia and Luxembourg.
And Austria were keen to give them one at various moments although the hosts had the strongest chances.
Fran Kirby came close to teeing up Lauren Hemp in the 14th minute with the winger narrowly missing the chance to bury a cross at the back post.
England were denied moments later with a corner finding its way to Beth Mead with a high boot from Laura Weinrother thwarting her chance to score.
The hosts turned up the pressure around the half-hour mark with Hemp forcing a quality save from Manuela Zinsberger.
And they looked set to bag a goal when Mead’s pass glanced narrowly over the head of White before the England hotshot bundled the ball home following a Kirby cross.
The second half saw Austria up the ante forcing two stunning stops from Mary Earps.
I do think now we also need to be exposed to top, top countries and top opponents which will occur in February. Then we can really see where we are
First from a Barbara Dunst shot a leaping one-handed save from the keeper in the 49th minute.
And then from Maria Plattner’s strike with Earps pushing the ball over the bar moments later with England caught short in defence.
Wiegman added: “Those two saves were difference makers because we’re 1-0 (up). She needed to have a very explosive action two times in a row. She made the difference.”
The hosts had a penalty shout waved away after Austria skipper Carina Wenninger appeared to bring Mead down in the box around the 60th minute.
Skipper Millie Bright looked set to double England’s lead following a 67th-minute corner before the ball was headed out of danger.
And a last-ditch tackle denied White a chance to equal Kelly Smith’s record tally of 46 international goals before the win was sealed ahead of a clash with Latvia.
The result means England have won all five games played under Wiegman since her September arrival.
The England boss said: “I’m really proud of the performances. This was one of the hardest games I think.
“But I do think now we also need to be exposed to top, top countries and top opponents which will occur in February. Then we can really see where we are.”