It was the substitutes that were the star of the show as Chloe Kelly marked her return from injury with a crucial opening goal that helped England beat Belgium 3-0.
After lifting the Arnold Clark Cup on this very pitch back in February the Lionesses returned to Molineux to kick off their Euros warm-up games. Just one day after Sarina Wiegman named her squad for the tournament the selected 23 players were looking to put on a show with the opening game of the Euros just three weeks away.
England enjoyed large amounts of early pressure and had a number of chances to go ahead. With 10 minutes played Beth Meads’s cross met the boot of Ellen White and despite a good shot Nicky Evrard in the Belgium goal made a strong diving save to deny their opener.
The chances kept coming for England as a Georgia Stanway screamer sailed wide before White failed to put her shot away from inches outside the box and Mead curled one just to the right of the post. Despite a frustrating opening half an hour the fans were in fine voice accompanied by the ever-present England band.
Just after half an hour Belgium had their first real chance of the game. They manage to break from the England defence and Delacauw had the ball at her feet, however, she wasn’t able to connect and it went wide.
With all the England players looking for a way to open the scoring captain Leah Williamson found herself through on goal, but her attempt was headed off the line by Sari Kees. Goalkeeper Evrard was the stand-out player for Belgium in the first half denying the onslaught of England chances.
The second half started with the same story as much of the first for England, a flurry of chances were either missed or saved by the Belgium keeper and a frustrated Lionesses squad were struggling to find their goal.
Just after half an hour a stroke of luck saw England open the scoring. While Chloe Kelly was on a good run towards goal her cross was met, and turned in, by Belgium’s Amber Tysiak. Then, with just three minutes played they doubled their lead. Rachel Daly picked up a loose ball and fired it into the top corner as a roar rang around Molineux.
A clear as day own goal for Belgium with less than 10 minutes to go but it’s captain Williamson who will claim it as her strike rattles the bar and is pushed in by the keeper. A shame for Evrard after the performance she had put in over 90 minutes.
An overall disjointed performance from the Lionesses who struggled in front of goal. It was substitutes Kelly and Daly who impressed and England are once again unbeaten under Wiegman, adding three goals to their tally.
England – Earps (GK), Bronze, Stokes (45’), Walsh, Bright, Wubben-Moy (45’), Mead (45’), Williamson (C), White (61’), Stanway (61’), Hemp (81’)
Subs – Hampton (GK), Roebuck (GK), Daly (45’), Kirby (61’), Toone, Greenwood (45’), Parris (81’), Kelly (45’), England (61’), Scott, Russo, Carter
Belgium – Evrard, Philtjens, Wijnants, De Caigny, Delacauw, Wullart (C), Minnaert, De Neve, Kees, Biesmans, Deloose
Subs – Lichtfus (GK), Lemey (GK), Vangheluwe, Tysiak, Onzia, Vanmechelen, Tison, Eurlings, Van Kerkhoven, Janssens, Dhont, Missipo