Lionesses lift another trophy as England Women thrash Belgium to successfully defend Arnold Clark Cup
After five decades in which a trophy eluded them, the Lionesses now can’t stop winning them. They lifted their third in 12 months, successfully defending their Arnold Clark Cup crown as they thrashed Belgium 6-1 in Bristol.
The 26,169 inside Ashton Gate were lively throughout — just as Milton Keynes and Coventry were when welcoming Sarina Wiegman’s side last week. The decibels edged ever upwards when two-goal Leah Williamson held the trophy aloft just as she’d done last February.
Ruthless England were ahead inside 12 minutes thanks to Chloe Kelly, scorer of their winner in the Euros final against Germany last summer. Lauren James glided typically through Belgium’s defence and her cross was heading in off Belgian defender Julie Biesmans before Kelly gleefully swept home on the line.
After the zealous James — the architect of their first — had fired just over late in the half, England netted a crucial second as Lucy Bronze clipped a cross to the back post on her weaker left side and skipper Williamson nodded home. To little surprise, she was a hugely popular scorer inside Ashton Gate.
It took the rampant Lionesses just four minutes of the second half to further extend their lead. Goalkeeper Nicky Evrard really ought to have held Ella Toone’s shot, but much to Kelly’s delight she didn’t. Kelly had another tap-in. Soon enough she had the Golden Boot.
Manchester City’s unpredictable winger was on her A-game all night and so nearly had a hat-trick when she crashed against the crossbar with a fierce drive from range. Belgium were nowhere near her or England — now unbeaten in 29 matches.
The Lionesses just would not relent and had four when the unfortunate Biesmans stuck Georgia Stanway’s pullback past her own keeper. Number five came in the 89th minute when Lucy Bronze stabbed home from a corner.
Wiegman will have been mildly peeved that Belgium were afforded a consolation goal through substitute Elena Dhont not a minute later, but soon enough the Lionesses scored a sixth in a barmy end to a one-sided affair.
Right place. Right time.
⚽️ @Chloe_Kelly98 pic.twitter.com/t32Ng4UL4U
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) February 22, 2023
Williamson steered into the bottom corner from range with the final kick of the game. The centre-back with two — and soon enough with the first trophy of 2023 in her hands.
England open their World Cup account against Haiti in Brisbane five months today. They’ll hope more silverware is on the horizon, and who would bet against them?