England obliterate Belgium in Arnold Clark Cup, send strong message ahead of World Cup
England beat Belgium 6-1 to retain the Arnold Clark Cup and continue their dominant run of victories ahead of the World Cup this summer.
The Lionesses are on fire in their World Cup preparations. England has added the Arnold Clark Cup to their list of victories after demolishing Belgium 6-1 on Wednesday.
This is the second year in a row that England has won the Arnold Clark Cup and after beating Italy and South Korea in the other two games on their seven-day road trip, their undefeated streak is now at 29 games under head coach Sarina Wiegman. They have scored 12 goals and conceded just two and now earned their third trophy under her reign.
“I am happy with this week, happy with the win, but also happy with what we have done this week,” said Wiegman. “And how we have worked together in taking the next steps in preparation for the World Cup.”
Arnold Clark Cup sends World Cup warning
England took the lead early when Chloe Kelly scored the opening goal in the 12th minute. Just before halftime, Leah Williamson scored their second to up the lead to 2-0. Kelly scored her second of the night just five minutes into the second half as the domination continued. In the 78th minute, Belgium’s Julie Biesmans scored on herself to bring the score to 4-0. Lucy Bronze took it into the in the 88th minute just before Belgium’s Elena Dhont scored a consolation goal in stoppage time to bring the score to 5-1. Williamson answered with a second goal of her own just seconds later, bringing the final score to 6-1 to win the Arnold Clark Cup. Kelly, who ended as the leading goalscorer in the competition, won the Golden Boot.
For the Lionesses, this was a practice run to the World Cup this summer. Wiegman wanted to use the tournament as a way to work on and see which combinations work best with her team.
“When you go into a tournament, whatever one it is, you want to win it,” Wiegman said. “We wanted to try out some things, we wanted to see lots of players, some combinations of players, and we also wanted to manage loads, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Wiegman made nine changes for the 2-1 win on Sunday over Italy, but for the game against Belgium, she kept almost the same line-up she had for the 4-0 victory against South Korea, the only difference being Keira Walsh in instead of Jess Carter. She made a total of 18 changes over the last eight days during the road trip. It’s been a good test, but Belgium did not offer the attack that England will face this summer.
The lineup could look quite different come this summer. Beth Mead will hopefully be back from an ACL injury, Fran Kirby also had to miss the tournament with an injury sustained just before, and Lauren Hemp and Rachel Daly could also provide competition. Daly scored both goals on headers in their 2-1 defeat over Italy.
England’s next tests will be much harder. They will face Brazil at Wembley in April, followed by Australia in Brentford as the preparations continue ahead of the World Cup this summer. The World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20 with England to face China, Denmark, and Haiti in Group D.