Chloe Kelly and captain Leah Williamson each scored two goals as England thrashed Belgium 6-1 at Ashton Gate to clinch a successful defence of the Arnold Clark Cup. To save the title, the Lionesses merely needed to avoid losing. Kelly gave them the lead in the 12th minute after some wonderful work by Lauren James, and Williamson's header increased their lead shortly before halftime. Five minutes into the second half, Kelly increased England's lead to three goals by taking advantage of goalkeeper Nicky Evrard's spill of Ella Toone's effort. While the Manchester City forward, who scored the game-winning goal for England in the Euros final last summer, missed out on a hat-trick as another attempt clipped the crossbar, she ends up winning the competition three goals in the lead for the scorer. Together with the 78th-minute own goal by Julie Biesman, late goals from Lucy Bronze and Williamson, either side of Belgium's response from Elena Dhont, saw England improve to three victories from three games in the round-robin competition and 25 in 29 games overall under Sarina Wiegman. They finish first in the Arnold Clark Cup standings, three points ahead of Belgium. Italy, which defeated South Korea 2-1 earlier on Wednesday at the Bristol stadium, is in third.
The European champions, who had a strong start to the year, will play their next matches in April against Brazil at Wembley and Australia at Brentford as they continue to get ready for the World Cup this summer. On July 20, the tournament in Australia and New Zealand will get off, and England will be in Group D with China, Denmark, and Haiti, who qualified after defeating Chile 2-1 in a play-off on Wednesday. After making nine adjustments for Sunday's 2-1 victory against Italy, Wiegman began virtually exactly the same lineup that had faced South Korea last Thursday, with the exception of Keira Walsh starting in place of Jess Carter. England applied early pressure, and in the second minute Georgia Stanway missed with a shot and James and Kelly from solid positions blasting attempts off-target. The latter duo then worked together to give the hosts the lead. James cut in from the right and dribbled into the box, evading three defenders. Her cross was deflected by Biesmans, and Kelly headed in on the line. In spite of Belgium, the 20th-ranked team in the world, who finished as quarterfinalists at the Euro 2022 tournament but did not advance to the forthcoming World Cup, England continued to control possession. Millie Bright's header and a James shot both went over the crossbar.
Williamson headed in a corner from Bronze in the 42nd minute to increase the lead. It appeared as though Alessia Russo handled in the build-up, but there was no VAR present to investigate the incident. Nothing changed after the break in terms of the one-way flow, and England quickly added a third goal in the early minutes of the second half when Kelly scored as a result of Evrard's failed effort to block Toone's shot. Kelly then had the unfortunate misfortune of failing to complete the triple because her shot was simply too high and touched the crossbar in route. The next goal came from Wiegman's team when replacement Stanway's low ball was deflected into her own goal by Biesmans, and in the 89th, Bronze scored goal number five with a close-range strike. Dhont, a replacement, then helped Belgium score with a beautiful strike from the edge of the box before Williamson's low, drilled drive gave England the final score.
England Destroys Belgium To Win The Arnold Clark Cup And Warn The World Cup
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