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Published 16 February 2023 4 min read
England Women's Senior Team

Sarina: 'We found the spaces'

Written by:

Frank Smith

England head coach reflects on Arnold Clark Cup victory over Korea Republic in Milton Keynes

Sarina Wiegman was pleased with the way in which England deconstructed a defensive opponent in Korea Republic on Thursday night.

The Lionesses had to show patience in their first match of this year’s Arnold Clark Cup, with the opening goal not arriving until the 40th minute, when Georgia Stanway converted a penalty.

But then Chloe Kelly and Alessia Russo scored twice in five minutes immediately after the interval and Lauren James wrapped up the scoring with 12 minutes remaining.

Wiegman said: "I'm happy. I think we played really well against a really defensive South Korea.

“We played an opponent that played very deep, very compact. That was hard in the first half and the pitch didn’t help either.

“But I think we did really well in the second half, we found the spaces better. We needed more numbers up front and I think we did a lot better in the second half.

"It helped that we scored such a quick goal but it was a hard pitch, and it was hard to keep up the speed, so we did really well.

"I can't complain about the depth of this team. They just deliver all the time."
Georgia Stanway opened the scoring with a penalty just five minutes before half time
Georgia Stanway opened the scoring with a penalty just five minutes before half time

There was a noticeable improvement in England’s attacking play during the second half and Wiegman was asked what she said during her half-time team talk.

The head coach replied: “We had a very good start. We only talked about spaces, that we needed more numbers higher up, rotations and our centre-backs needed to play higher to get closer to where they defended.

“And to keep doing well in transition, so when we lost the ball we did really well.”

England’s scoring was rounded off with 12 minutes remaining courtesy of a thumping strike by James.

It was her first goal for the senior England team in what was her third start in six appearances in total.

At just 21 years old, James is widely tipped as one of the rising stars of English football and Wiegman said: “She is a huge talent. We have lots of talent in this team and she is one of those exceptional talents. She's very tight on the ball and can dribble really well too.

"It's not the World Cup yet and she was still building this season so she feels good, and you can tell because she plays really well.

"She has been a talent for a long time, she just had to be available, and you can see how hard she has worked at Chelsea. I hope now she gets that consistency and keeps enjoying herself."

Thursday’s 4-0 victory over Korea Republic was the third first of three matches for England during their Arnold Clark Cup title defence, having won the inaugural competition last year.

Next up is Italy in Coventry on Sunday before they round off the competition with a match against Belgium at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate.

On the prospect of playing three games in seven days, Wiegman said: “We have less rest. It is crucial that we have three games so we can try out new things, we can see a lot of players and see a lot of combinations, and that’s really good.”