England are on their way to victory in the first round of the Arnold Clark Football Cup


England got their Arnold Clarke Cup title defense off to the perfect start, comfortably beating South Korea at Stadium MK.

Chelsea’s Lauren James was the standout player as she scored her first goal for England in the second half after earlier winning a penalty which Georgia Stanway coolly converted in the first leg.

England dominated the second half after Chloe Kelly made it 2-0 16 seconds after the restart and Manchester United’s Alessia Russo flicked a smart shot past the keeper at the near post.

James’ late strike sealed victory for the European champions, who won the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup last year.

Sarina Wigman’s side made easy work of South Korea, who are ranked 15th in the world, and have already moved to the top of the table on goal difference after Belgium’s Tessa Woollaert scored a late winner to beat Italy 2-1 in the tournament opener earlier Thursday.

The win also extends England’s 674-day unbeaten run under Wiegman – the last of which came in April 2021 – in the build-up to this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

James is impressed with Wigman’s experiments

England are heavy favorites to win the competition as the top-ranked team and Wiegman was able to make several changes to the starting line-up without seeing a dip in performance.

James, who has been outstanding for Chelsea in the Women’s Super League this season, was given the opportunity to show her creativity and did not disappoint.

Her runs in the first half helped open up a stubborn South Korean defence, eventually forcing Jang Sel-gi into a foul to concede a penalty, which Stanway made no mistake in converting.

The Chelsea forward’s reputation grew further in the second half when she played a part in Russo’s goal, slotting it past Alex Greenwood with a sharp pass down the right flank to finish off her game with a first-time strike. international goal in the 78th minute.

Wigman, who was without key midfielder Kiera Walsh due to illness, was able to review several formations and introduced Manchester City’s Laura Coombs in the second half – her first England cap for eight years.

Captain Leah Williamson has also been used in midfield and defence, giving Wiegman’s options ahead of the World Cup, which kicks off in July.

“I want to try something. I think this tournament is a really big step in our preparation for the World Cup,” Wiegman said.

“We need to see where we are now as a team and where we are as individuals. We will find out more things and make some changes.

“The team has a lot of depth. We have several centre-backs who can play as full-backs, and [на] these positions face a lot of competition. I can’t complain about the depth of this team.

“I don’t like having headaches, but in this case I do.”

England should have scored more with substitute Katie Robinson hitting the post from close range, Stanway hitting the crossbar and Russo also hitting the bar in the first half.

But the night further cemented England’s momentum, even without injured Euro top scorer Beth Mead and midfielder Walsh.

Field conditions were less than ideal as there were several occasions where the ball was thrown near the touchline, and Wiegman later said it was “unacceptable at this level”, but this did not faze England.

They next face Italy in Coventry before finishing the tournament in Bristol against Belgium.

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