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England roars at Wembley, topping powerhouse USWNT in friendly

England faced the USWNT at Wembley Stadium on Friday. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo)

LONDON — Playing in front of a big and boisterous crowd at Wembley Stadium, the U.S. and English women’s national soccer teams met in a friendly Friday that carried an appeal and message stretching far beyond the pitch.

Before kickoff, players from both teams stood together holding a banner that read, “Protect the Players” — a gesture of solidarity at the end of a week in which a damning investigative report about abuse and misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League was released. The players wore teal armbands in support of abuse victims.

The harmonious occasion came before an audience of 76,893, a reflection of growing interest in women’s soccer in England, where, this past summer, the national team won the European Championship for the first time.