With Rachel Daily’s volley and two own goals, England finally passed Belgium in the first of three pre-Euro friendly matches.
Their manager, Salina Wiefman, has been demanding ruthlessness from Lioness since taking charge last summer, but in Molino, after a frustrating first half, she relies on a substitute to inject cutting edge. I was forced to do that.
Chloe Kelly’s distracted strike and Daily’s striking goal were the difference in the second half before Leah Williamson’s shot bounced off the crossbar and behind goalkeeper Nicky Evrad.
“I think it’s enough to win 3-0,” Weegman said. “I think we need a little more ruthlessness when we enter the euro.”
Where does the ruthlessness come from? “You want to make it better, so you train, talk, and watch video clips about it,” she said. “The last third is the hardest part. It’s spiritual and execution.”
There was little surprise when Wiegman started XI. Arsenal centre-back Lotte Ubben Moy was on the defensive alongside Millie Bright. Alex Greenwood has eased after the heavy season after Covid and Jess Carter struggled for full fitness. Georgia Stanway, who recently joined Bayern Munich from Manchester City, nodded in 10th place ahead of Flankerby and Ella Toone.
Arsenal defender Williamson exchanged places with Stanway as its position provides the only real question mark prior to England’s Euro opening game at Old Trafford on July 6th. It was interesting to see the manager explore her, moving forward to play with her, options beyond the expected trio of Stanway, Kirby, and Toon.
“Yes, that’s good,” Weegman said of the interaction between the three. “It’s about teamwork. It takes a little work when someone takes action, another player takes another action, or there isn’t much movement.”
Weegman warned that Belgium would be a tough opponent despite being ranked 12th in the FIFA rankings. “Belgium has made a lot of progress and we plan to expand into the euro,” she said. “They can take advantage of a few opportunities, but they also want to play their own games.”
Belgium opened Euro Group D against Iceland at Manchester City Academy Stadium, with Italy and France completing the group.
At the last meeting in England and Belgium in August 2019, the Phil Neville team abandoned the two-goal lead to save a 3-3 draw in the team’s first game after playing third. Depends on the Nikita Parris penalty of the minute-defeat to Belgium in the World Cup. Nevertheless, for teams hoping to win major tournaments, Belgium must be a small fry, as it has not lost in 10 games since 1980.
In half the time, statistics told the story of domination. Lioness shot 14 shots with 66% ball dominance. Still, they struggled to find the ruthlessness of scoring 72 goals in 11 games under Weegman before the kick-off.
Evrad succeeded in moving Ellen White’s header away from close range after Beth Mead’s cross. The 27-year-old defender set aside the near-post effort from Lauren Hemp after a rough run on the left side and then denied England’s captain Williamson, his first goal with an armband. Was saved by the Salikis. Cleared her line after she clipped the ball over the keeper.
On the other arm of the captain, and of all English players, there was a black band worn in honor of Weegman’s sister after her recent death.
“They supported me very much,” Weegman said. “The captain came to me and asked if I could wear it. They are very good people and it shows a sense of team unity. It was a great gesture. My sister is proud. Probably. “
Clearly dissatisfied with the fact that the first half was a bit old, the two managers switched things during breaks. Daily replaced Demi Stokes in the back left, Greenwood replaced Ubben Moi, and Kelly replaced Mead. Belgian defenders Keith and Laura de Nebe gave way to Amber Tissiak and midfielder Charlotte Tison.
Unfortunately for Belgium, the key to England was Tysiak’s foot, which diverted Kelly’s strike at the near post after Wing collected bronze passes and skated into the box.
The overwhelming number of friendly buildings up to the home tournament, 9,598 spectators, sighed all at once when the ball hit the back of the net. England had their corners pinballed around the box before falling daily near the penalty spot, with a cleaner goal than the versatile Houston Dash volleyed forward to extend her side lead. I was rewarded for my patience.
Williamson never appeared on the scoresheet himself, but played a big role in England’s final goal.
After Ebrald pushed the substitute Paris heading shot out of the corner, the ball bounced off her feet and the midfielder fired a shot from the crossbar, off the back of the keeper.