A volley from Rachel Daly and two own goals ensured England finally beat Belgium in the first of their three pre-Euro friendlies.
Her coach, Sarina Wiegman, has demanded cruelty from the Lions since she took over last summer, but Molineux has been forced to rely on her substitutes to bring some avant-garde after a first half. frustrating.
Chloe Kelly’s deflected shot and Daly’s impressive goal were the difference in the second half, before Leah Williamson’s shot bounced off the crossbar and into the back of goalkeeper Nicky Evrard.
“I think when you win 3-0, that’s enough,” Wiegman said. “I think when you get into a euro you need a little more cruelty.”
Where does cruelty come from? “You want to improve it by training, talking about it, watching video clips,” he said. “The last third is the hardest part. It’s a mental thing, it’s an execution thing. “
There were few surprises in Wiegman’s starting eleven. Arsenal midfielder Lotte Wubben-Moy lined up alongside Millie Bright on defense, with Alex Greenwood still recovering from having Covid and Jess Carter working up to fitness after a busy season. . Georgia Stanway, who recently joined Bayern Munich from Manchester City, received the appeal ahead of Fran Kirby and Ella Toone at number 10.
With this position the only real question mark before the opening match of the European Championship at Old Trafford on July 6, it was interesting to see Williamson move forward to swap places with Stanway or play alongside him, with the coach exploring his options beyond expectations. trio of Stanway, Kirby and Toone.
“Yeah, it’s okay,” Wiegman said of possible interactions between the three. “It’s about working as a team, when someone does an action another player does another action, when the move hasn’t been done much it takes a bit of work.”
Wiegman had warned that Belgium would be a tough opponent, despite the 12 places that separate them in the FIFA rankings. “Belgium has developed a lot and is also going to the Euro,” he said. “They can play a little timely, but they also want to play a possession game.”
Belgium opens Group D of the European Championship against Iceland at Manchester City Academy Stadium, with Italy and France completing their group.
In the previous meeting between England and Belgium in August 2019, Phil Neville’s team threw a two-goal lead and relied on a penalty from Nikita Parris in the 75th minute to save the 3-3 draw in the team’s first game after third place. defeat of the play-off against Sweden in the World Cup. However, for a team hoping to win a major tournament, Belgium, a team it has not lost in 10 games since 1980, should be a small juvenile.
Chloe Kelly after his shot was deflected in front of the Belgian goalkeeper to give England the lead. Photography: Shutterstock
Halfway through, the statistics told a story of dominance. The Lions had 66 percent of possession and 14 shots on goal. However, they struggled to find the cruelty that had led them to score 72 goals in 11 games with Wiegman before the pitch.
Evrard did well to deflect Ellen White’s header from close range after a cross from Beth Mead. The 27-year-old also put aside an effort near Lauren Hemp’s post after a run overflowing from the left, and was later saved by defender Sari Kees, who denied England captain Williamson , a first goal with the bracelet on. offside after cutting the ball over the goalkeeper.
On the other arm of the captain, and of all the English players, was a black band that was carried in homage to Wiegman’s sister after her recent transfer.
“They’ve supported me a lot,” Wiegman said. “The captains came to me and asked if we could take them. They are such good human beings and this proves the unity of the team. It was a great gesture. My sister would be proud. “
Clearly frustrated by the somewhat stale first half, the two coaches changed things at the break. Daly replaced Demi Stokes as the left winger, Greenwood replaced Wubben-Moy and Kelly took Mead’s place. Belgian defenders Kees and Laura De Neve gave way to Amber Tysiak and midfielder Charlotte Tison.
Unfortunately for Belgium, the key to England would be the foot of substitute Tysiak, who deflected Kelly’s shot to the nearest post after the winger had picked up the Bronze pass and skated into the area.
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Crowds of 9,598 spectators, disappointed for a friendly to a home tournament, breathed collective relief as the ball hit the bottom of the net. England were rewarded for their patience with a cleaner goal not long after: a corner made a corner around the area before falling in front of Daly near the penalty spot, and the versatile Houston Dash forward went fly to extend the advantage of your team.
Williamson did not score, but played an important role in England’s final goal. The ball bounced off his feet after Evrard had a good chance to put his team ahead, but his kick from the left went wide.