Last result: England 0-0 Belgium
24 minutes: England 0-0 Belgium
The Lionesses need to start getting their midfield on the ball. Millie Bright pushes it to Hemp on the wing, who wastes no time firing a cross into the box but Evrard can easily gobble her up. After a somewhat shaky start, Belgium have settled into the game and appear to have tricked England a bit.
20 minutes: England 0-0 Belgium
Belgium are slowly getting into the game and have had a few periods of extended possession. The visitors manage to cordon off the central corridors that England used to stage their early attacks. The game is suspended as Julie Biesmans is down injured after a challenge by White.
14 minutes: England 0-0 Belgium
Hemp receives the ball on her left flank and executes a cool keepy-upy to pull the ball away from her marker before driving inside with one of her usual signature runs. She parries a challenge but deflects her shot into the side netting!
The Lionesses have increased the tempo and play much more directly.
11 minutes: England 0-0 Belgium
Ellen White tests Evrard after volleying Beth Meads’ cross. That was England’s best chance so far.
9 minutes: England 0-0 Belgium
Beth Mead finds possession and Belgium give the Arsenal striker way too much space on the edge of the box – nobody even challenges them – before England lose possession.
Lauren Hemp then recovers the ball from Wijnants down the left and marches into the box. She threads a perfectly weighted ball to Georgia Stanway, who misses the ball wide. The midfielder from Bayern Munich should have done better.
5 minutes: England 0-0 Belgium
England started confidently, patiently tossing the ball around their back and waiting for an opportunity to open up. This time it’s Lucy Bronze’s turn to charge forward down the right wing and enter the box but is unable to put away a clean shot. Barely two minutes later, Williamson finds Bronze back on her flank and she pushes forward again, engulfing what appears to be pain in the green in front of her. Belgium have to watch out for this blind spot, otherwise they could concede early here.
1 min: England 0-0 Belgium
And we’re gone! Both teams kneel before kick-off. England starts with possession and immediately smacks the ball down. Already in the first few seconds of the game they put pressure on the Belgian defense. Williamson breaks away from midfield and uses some space to get into the box, but Belgium keeper Nicky Evrard collects easily.
The players come out of the tunnel.
… and the hymns are sung. There is a sizeable crowd at Molineux.
Captain Leah Williamson speaks
We’re 10 minutes from kick-off
England’s Hot Streaks
England are unbeaten in their last 10 games against Belgium in all competitions. The Lionesses’ last loss to The Red Flames was in 1980, when they lost 2-1 in a friendly.
A reminder that England haven’t lost a game under Sarina Wiegmanwith the Lionesses winning nine and drawing two of their eleven games under the Dutch coach.
It’s a special night for the Chelsea defender, who will be England’s runner-up at this summer’s European Championships.
“It’s good to play after three weeks of training and showing where we are on the pitch.
On their decision to drop former captain Steph Houghton from the squad:
“It was a very difficult decision, but for the other four players that we also dropped from the squad. With Steph, she was injured, we did everything – she did everything – to come back and prepare for the Euros, but at the end of the day she is not ready to compete. The time is simply too short with the level that is required for Euros.
About Alex Greenwood, who recently recovered from Covid and may be working from the bench:
“Alex is ready to play. She couldn’t train with the group last week, she did slime training, but she started soccer practice this week. She’s ready, but not for a full game. Like most of the other players, they were on vacation, now we have three weeks of training, so we want to absorb the strain as much as possible.
About Chloe Kelly, who is back in the mix after a short stint on the sidelines:
“The three starters at the front today started a lot last season. I’ve been working with Chloe Kelly since pre-camp, she’s done a great job. I’d really like to see her in the game too, but she’ll have to be patient. Same with Fran, she’s in a really good place and she’s fine and feeling good but she hasn’t played in a while. It’s slowly building up and getting ready for July 6th.”
The teams complete…
ENG: Mary Earps (GK), Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh, Millie Bright, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Beth Mead, Leah Williamson, Ellen White, Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp.
Substitutes: Rachel Daly, Hannah Hampton (TG), Fran Kirby, Ella Toone, Alex Greenwood, Nikita Parris, Chloe Kelly, Bethany England, Jill Scott, Ellie Roebuck (TG), Alessia Russo, Jess Carter.
BEL: Nicky Evrard, Davina Deloose, Sari Kees, Laura De Neve, Davina Philtjens, Julie Biesmans, Marie Minnaert, Feli Delacauw, Sarah Wijnants, Tine De Caigny, Tessa Wullaert.
Substitutes: Lisa Lichtfus (TW), Diede Lemey (TW), Jody Vangheluwe, Amber Tysiak, Lenie Onzia, Davinia Vanmechelen, Charlotte Tison, Hannah Eurlings, Ella Van Kerkhoven.
England good enough to win the Euros…
…says Luke Edwards, the Telegraph’s Northern Football Writer. In case you missed it, read Luke’s in-depth analysis of why this could – and should – be the Year of the Lionesses.
“As tough as it may seem, anything less than a place in the finals is viewed through the prism of failure and disappointment.
“England have reached the semi-finals in each of the last three tournaments, a streak that dates back to 2015. The standards have been set, expectations must be met and there is no room for sentimentality either as ex-captain Steph Houghton is not counted.”
Let’s take a look at England’s starting XI
Preview England Women vs. Belgium
Good evening and welcome to our live coverage of England v Belgium – the Lionesses’ first warm-up for this summer’s EURO at home!
Sarina Weigman yesterday unveiled her 23-man squad for the tournament, with former captain Steph Houghton – who has been struggling with an Achilles injury in recent months – being the most prominent omission.
England have had it easy since the Dutchwoman took the helm last summer. They are 11 games unbeaten and scored for fun against a relatively weak opponent (remember the 20-0 against Latvia?). To give an idea of their dominance, the Lionesses have scored 72 goals in their last 11 games. collect only two.
But this is where things get serious – and that’s why this fixture takes on extra meaning. This is the first real opportunity for England’s players to claim a spot in their EURO opener against Austria on July 6 at Old Trafford.
Asked if strong individual performances against Belgium – ahead of two more warm-up games against the Netherlands and Switzerland – could determine her starting selection, Wiegman admitted she was “a little closer” to her best starting XI.
“This team is really competitive so we have to make some difficult decisions. That’s another reason we’re playing these three games,” she said. “The players have to keep performing. If you play a really good game now, you have chances. It’s about knowing where the players are and seeing how we can make other scenarios work.”
Belgium, who will take part in the championships this summer, have made steady progress on the women’s football scene in recent years. The Red Flames have no lack of experience in their ranks – keep an eye out for Janice Cayman, who has 124 caps and is second in all-time goalscoring.