Subs rescue goal-shy England as they eventually put Belgium to the sword winning 3-0
By Paul Lagan at Molineux Stadium
England 3 v Belgium 0
9,588 in attendance
They took their time, but eventually England found some rhythm and goal-scoring acumen and put Belgium to the sword in this friendly at Molineux tonight, running out 3-0 winners.
Second half strikes from Chloe Kelly, Rachel Daly and Leah Williamson saw off a dogged but limited opponents in truth the score should have been at least double.
The first two scorers were substitutes and it was head coach Sabrina Wiegman’s replacements which gave the 9,588 crowd something to shout about.
The opening 45 minutes was dominated by the Lionesses, but their shooting boots were left back at their training camp.
England understandably started on the front foot, with right back Lucy Bronze in evidence from the off, with her lung-busting runs down the wing.
However there was little by way of any finishing pass to striker Ellen White who looked a forlorn striker , all lone when it mattered.
On nine minutes, excellent play on the left by Lauren Hemp, found Georgia Stanway on the edge of the Belgium penalty area. But she skewed her shot well wide of Nicky Evrard’s goal.
Four minutes later, and a deft clipped pass by Beth Mead, saw striker White latch onto the ball with a volley. However the effort lacked pace and went safely into Evrard’s gloves.
Stanway was at it again on 26 minutes, when her run on the right, attacking the goal, saw the opposition defenders melt away.
However when the Man City player got to the edge of the penalty box, she thumped the ball wide of goal.
White totally miscued her close range effort on 29 minutes as England piled on the pressure on the increasingly porous Belgium defence.
Mead was next up to try her luck, but she panicked and shot wide two minutes later.
Had Feli Delacauw showed a modicum of composure on 33 minutes, then she should have put Belgium ahead. But she scuffed her shot, when free in the middle of the England penalty area.
Mead had a strong case for a penalty denied by Swedish referee Sara Persson 10 minutes from the break. Delacauw showing as much control on her challenge on the Arsenal midfielder than she did two minutes earlier at the other end.
Sari Kees headed the ball off the goal-line after excellent set up play by Mead saw Leah Williamson chip the ball over Evrard and seemingly into the net.
England made three substitutions at half time, on came Daly, Alex Greenwood, and Kelly, off went Lottie Wubben-Mooy, Mead and Demi Stokes.
England continued where they left off in the start of the second half. Kelly in particular showed her pace on the right.
Stanway had a powerful shot saved, and a swinging left footer go inches wide as the Lionesses battered the Belgium defence.
It was soon the time for Chelsea to come to the rescue as striker’s Beth England and Frank Kirby entered the fray on 61 minutes.
They replaced the disappointing White and Stanway.
It reaped instant reward as Kelly went on a run on the right. She cut into the edge of the Belgium area and tried a left-footed shot.
The ball took a decisive deflection of substitute Amber Tysiak and zipped past Evrard and her right post to open the score.
The constant pressure finally paid decisive dividends, and on 66 minutes it was number two for the Lionesses.
A regulation corner was not cleared sufficiently well, and Daly thumped home a venomous left-footed half volley from 10 yards out.
England had a glorious chance on 71 minutes but she failed to convert a headed chance from close range after another May run on the left by Hemp.
Nikita Parris had a 10 minute run out at the expense of player of the match Hemp.
A Kelly corner again undid Belgium, and after Parris had a header hacked off the line, the ball fell to skipper Williamson who punched the ball home to make it 3-0 with seven minutes on the clock.
There will be greater opposition in the coming months when England attempt to win the UEFA Women’s EURO’s which will be played in venues in England culminating in the final at Wembley.
Teams: England, Earps, Bronze, Stokes, Walsh, Bright, Wubben-May, Mead, Williamson, White, Stanway, Hemp
Subs; Hampton, Roebuck, Aly, Kirby, Toone, Greenwood, Parris, Kelly, England, Scott, Russo, Carter
Belgium, Evrard, Phitjens, Wijnants, De Caigny, Delacauw, Minnaert, De Neve, Kees, Biesmans, Deloose
Subs: Lichtfus, Lemey, Vangheluwe, Tysiak, Vanmechelen, Timon, Eurlings, Van Kerkhoven, Janssen, Dhont, Missipo
Referee Sara Persson (Sweden)