Reports by Johnathan Stack in the Stadium MK press box, with EXCLUSIVE pitchside photographs from Hannah Parnell (17/2/23).
England 4-0 Korea Republic
by Johnathan Stack
Above: Chloe Kelly celebrates after putting England 2-0 up over Korea Republic last night. Photo: Hannah Parnell for Impetus.
The Lionesses kicked off 2023 with a bang as they comfortably beat Korea Republic in their opening match of the Arnold Clark Clark Cup.
The Lionesses walked out onto the field in Milton Keynes to a rapturous roar, which carried on when Lucy Bronze was presented with a special shirt as well as given an ovation for reaching 100 caps in the last international period.
England had the better of the chances in the opening 10 minutes of the game, with Lauren James and Ella Toone going close to breaking the deadlock. However, they did not have it all their own way as Korea Republic tested Mary Earps in the England goal in between.
The Lionesses would keep the pressure on with James and Toone forcing Kim Jung Mi into saves. England would go close again as Lucy Bronze fired over and forced another save out of Kim. The hosts kept knocking on that Korea Republic door as Georgia Stanway’s header went just over the bar.
James then ran through and made Kim take action with a sprawling save to her right. You could tell early on that there was a difference in levels between the two sides. As it was all England moving forward, Korea barely got out of their half of the pitch.
The Lionesses eventually took the lead from the penalty spot; James was brought down in the box and Stanway stuck the ball away from 12 yards to get the European Champions’ opening goal of the tournament.
Into the second half and England got off to the perfect start as Chloe Kelly doubled the Lionesses’ lead as she latched on to a loose ball and her shot was deflected in past Kim. Then Alessia Russo bagged England’s third four minutes last as Alex Greenwood played in a low cross for Russo to dink over Kim.
England were firmly in control of this game as Stanway nearly scored a second goal having been passed the ball on the edge of the box, she smashed the ball against the crossbar.
Lauren James made it four to England with 12 minutes left after picking up the ball on the edge taking a great touch and placing her shot past Kim.
Late on, Katie Robinson nearly made it 5-0 as her shot cannoned off the post as the ball was parried into her path by Kim, who made a save, it did look like on replay that Robinson struggled to get her feet set right.
It stayed at 4-0 and England start 2023 in the same way they ended 2022, winning and unbeaten and more importantly they kick off their World Cup preparations in the right way.
Lauren James put in a dazzling performance as she was named player of the match, she scored her first England goal at senior level and of course played her part in winning the penalty for the first goal.
Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman spoke about James after the match saying: “She worked really hard at Chelsea. That’s what you have seen at Chelsea this season, then she can take the next step to the national team. Now when she starts playing at this level with Chelsea, and in the Champions League too, and on this international level, and get those minutes. you can improve. I hope now she gets consistency; she stays fit and keeps enjoying herself.
“It’s not the World Cup yet. Last season she didn’t play a lot and was still building. This year she is playing more and more.
“She feels good, and you can tell. But we have more players that are really good. We have so many attacking players that are really good. We have opportunities.”
It was the perfect way to kick off a World Cup year for the Lionesses, they take on Italy in Coventry on Sunday while Korea Republic takes on Belgium.
Teams: ENGLAND (4-3-3): Earps, Bronze, Greenwood, Williamson, Bright, Kelly, Stanway, Russo, Toone, James, Carter. Substitutes: Roebuck (GK), MacIver (GK), Hemp, Daly, Park, Salmon, Charles, Robinson, Wubben-Moy, Le Tissier, Nobbs, Coombs, Ramsey.
Scorers: Stanway 40’, Kelly 46’, Russo 50’, James 78’.
KOREA REPUBLIC (3-4-3): Kim, Hong, Lim, Kim, Jang, Choo, Chloe, Lee, Kim, Kang, Son. Substitutes: Yoon, Ryu, Shim, Kim, Jang, Chun, Lee, Park, Jang, Ji, Kim, Ko, Lee, Bae, Park.
Referee: Andreza Ferreira (BRA).
Belgium get off to a winning start
Italy 1-2 Belgium
By Johnathan Stack
Belgium got the 2023 Arnold Clark Cup off and running with a 2-1 win over Italy at Stadium MK.
It was a positive start from Italy which saw them go close in the opening minutes, but it didn’t take long for Belgium who are three world-ranking places before their opponents to take the lead through Marie Detruyer in the 15th minute and the Red Flames continued to look dangerous throughout the first half.
Italy started stronger in the second half and it was clear it was going to be a tough second half for the Belgians.
Italy managed to equalise in the 65th minute, through a brilliant curling effort from substitute Manuela Giugliano, just minutes after coming on.
In the closing stages of the game, Belgium grabbed the winner as the Red Flames’ leading goalscorer Tessa Wullaert scored her 70th international goal with a brilliant finish.
Next up for Belgium is Korea Republic, while Italy takes on the Lionesses in Coventry on Sunday.
Teams: ITALY (4-3-3): Schroffengger, Linari, Cantore, Rosucci, Boattin, Caruso, Lenzini, Piemonte, Greggi, Catenary, Orsi. Substitutes: Giuliani, Baldi, Bergamashci, Filangeri, Galli, Giugliano, Giacinti, Girelli, Bonansea, Cafferata, Bonfantini, Serturini, Polli, Salvai, Severini.
Scorers: Giugliano 64’.
BELGIUM (4-1-4-1): Evrard, De Caigny, Vanhaevermaet, Cayman, Dhont, Detruyer, Jenssens, De Neve, Kees, Biesmans, Meersman. Substitutes: Lemey, Bastiaen, Philtjens, Van Kerkhoven, Colton, Wijnants, Eurlings, Delacauw, Wullaert, Vangheluwe, Deloose, Missipo, Fon, Ampoorter.
Scorers: Detruyer 16’, Wullaert 90’.
Referee: Ewa Augustyn (POL).