Report: England WU17s 4-0 Belgium
Goals from Erica Parkinson, Alexia Potter and Ava Baker help England WU17s make it back-to-back 4-0 wins in UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship qualification
England women’s under-17s took a huge step towards qualification for this summer’s U17 EURO with a 4-0 win over Belgium.
Goals from Erica Parkinson, Alexia Potter and Ava Baker ensured the Young Lionesses secured another comfortable win at the Gradski Stadion in Sinj, Croatia.
Today’s match saw the top two teams following the first round of matches in A2 go head-to-head, following England’s 4-0 win over Croatia and Belgium’s 2-1 victory against Norway on Sunday.
There are seven League A groups in the second round of qualifying, with only the winner progressing to this summer’s UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship Finals alongside the hosts Estonia.
With England now sitting top of Group A2 on six points, they can watch tomorrow’s match between Norway and Croatia knowing a draw would see the Young Lionesses qualify for the Finals taking place between 14-26 May.
Regardless of the result tomorrow, England WU17s know they will secure qualification for the EURO as long as they avoid defeat against Norway on Saturday, with kick off at 10am.
Head coach Natalie Henderson made four changes to her starting line-up against Belgium, with Leicester City goalkeeper Sophia Poor, Lucy Newell, Ruby-Rae Tucker and Parkinson all coming into the side.
Belgium started reasonably well before England grew into the game and just after the quarter of an hour mark, they scored a quick-fire double.
The Young Lionesses took the lead when Bristol City left-back Mari Ward got to the byline and her cross was headed in by Parkinson.
Then less than two minutes later, Henderson’s side doubled their lead after some more fine wing play from a full-back.
This time it was Arsenal’s Araya Dennis who jinxed past the defender and found Lola Brown at the far post. She then controlled well before laying it off to her Chelsea team-mate Potter to side-foot home.
Arsenal's EGC plays into England's new women's and girls' player pathway plan
Hear from some of the coaches and players at Arsenal's Emerging Talent Centre
England had a third goal harshly ruled out just before the half-hour mark when another cross from Ward was headed in by the dangerous Michelle Agyemang, who was adjudged to have fouled the goalkeeper in competing for the ball.
Arsenal’s Agyemang was giving the Belgium defence a torrid time and after rolling her markers and bursting into the box, she was bundled over for a penalty. The striker was unable to dispatch her spot-kick though as Belgium goalkeeper Aude Waldbillig saved low to her right.
The third goal did arrive ten minutes into the second half though as Belgium failed to clear a corner and Laila Harbert’s low drive was turned in by captain Potter for her second goal of the match.
England’s excellent high press was resulting in Belgium often being camped in their own half and after winning possession just outside the opposition box, the Young Lionesses made it 4-0 with a sweet left-footed strike by substitute Ava Baker.
Leicester City's rising star almost had a second when she rattled the bar late on and moments later Lola Nesbeth had a goal chalked off for offside.
All eyes now turn to Norway versus Croatia tomorrow morning before England finish their EURO qualification campaign on Saturday against the Norwegians.
England: 13 Sophia Poor (Leicester City), 2 Araya Dennis (Arsenal), 3 Mari Ward (Bristol City), 4 Laila Harbert (Arsenal), 5 Katie Reid (Arsenal), 8 Alexia Potter (Chelsea) (C), 9 Michelle Agyemang (Arsenal), 10 Lola Brown (Chelsea), 15 Lucy Newell (West Bromwich Albion), 17 Ruby-Rae Tucker (Aston Villa), 18 Erica Parkinson (SC Leixoes)
Substitutes: 11 Ava Baker (Leicester City) for Brown 45, 20 Vivienne Lia (Arsenal) for Agyemang 66, 16 Lola Nesbeth (Chelsea) for Tucker 73, 12 Daisy Hind (Chelsea) for Dennis 73, 14 Holly Deering (Manchester United) for Harbert 82
Substitutes not used: 1 Katie Cox (Chelsea), 6 Zara Shaw (Liverpool), 7 Milly Round (Aston Villa), 19 Scarlett Kagalwala (Chelsea)
Head coach: Natalie Henderson
Goals: Erica Parkinson 17, Alexia Potter 19, 56, Ava Baker 75
Find women's and girls' football