England Women win Arnold Clark Cup with 3-1 victory over Germany
- E. White (15′)
- M. Bright (84′)
- F. Kirby (94′)
- A. Greenwood (40′)
- L. Magull (41′)
- J. Brand (79′)
Goals from Ellen White, makeshift striker Millie Bright and Fran Kirby help England Lionesses beat Germany to claim the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup at Molineux
Bright was thrown forward as a makeshift striker entering the final 10 minutes at Molineux and the move paid immediate dividends as she latched on to Lauren Hemp’s deflected strike and fired home.
With the visitors tiring, Kirby sealed the trophy with a superb individual goal as the hosts earned a first ever home win over Germany and leapfrogged Spain at the top of the table.
England had taken a 15th-minute through Ellen White but Lina Maghull equalised with a superb free-kick four minutes before the break.
Knowing they needed all three points to lift the trophy in front of their own fans, England survived a spell of second-half pressure before making their own count in ruthless style.
The six changes to the side held to a goalless draw by Spain on Sunday included a switch of goalkeeper and Ellie Roebuck was quickly called into action, keeping out Maximiliane Rall’s free header after the defender found space from a corner.
The 22-year-old then had to make amends for an overhit pass, keeping out Magull’s tame effort, before England began to threaten at the other end.
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) February 23, 2022
Stanway was involved in the build-up, finding Kirby, who was able to release White at the second attempt. A superb first touch took the Manchester City star clear of her marker and she promptly poked past Merle Frohms for her 49th international goal.
England had to defend stoutly to protect their lead, getting bodies in the way of Laura Feldkamp’s goalbound shot midway through the first half before Roebuck pounced on Klara Buhl’s low cross.
Chances continued to come at both ends during an entertaining half, Stanway testing Frohms with an acrobatic volley following a neat move and Rall firing low at Roebuck, before Germany levelled four minutes before the break.
It took a real moment of quality for them do so, Magull picking her spot expertly with a free-kick from 25 yards which gave Roebuck no chance and flew in off the underside of the bar
Buoyed by their equaliser, Germany created the first decent chance of the second half when a dangerous attack down the right led to Buhl mis-hitting her shot when well-placed eight yards out.
Hemp’s quick feet began to cause the visitors problems approaching the hour mark, at which point Wiegman introduced Nikita Parris to the fray to add to England’s attacking options.
But it was Germany who were next to go close, Sara Dabritz firing over from 20 yards after the hosts were caught in possession before last-ditch defending denied Buhl with quarter of an hour to play.
Kirby saw a shot blocked as England applied pressure of their own, which intensified with 10 minutes to play when a good move ended with Leah Williamson shooting narrowly over from the edge of the box.
The chances kept coming in the closing stages, Jule Brand heading wide from Dabritz’s cross before England’s next tactical switch proved a masterstroke.
Pushed into an attacking role, Bright kept her composure when the ball fell to her on 83 minutes following another fine run from Hemp, blasting past Frohms to put Wiegman within touching distance of her first silverware as Lionesses boss.
The centre-half swiftly returned to her usual position but far from holding on, England pushed to seal the deal and Kirby did just that with a lung-busting run and cool finish in the final minute of added time.
Wiegman’s side finish the Arnold Clark Cup unbeaten, with a win and two draws, and will have learned plenty from taking on top opposition ahead of this summer’s home UEFA European Championships as well as claiming the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup.
England (4-3-3): 21 Ellie Roebuck; 12 Lucy Bronze, 6 Millie Bright, 5 Alex Greenwood, 15 Jess Carter; 8 Leah Williamson, 4 Keira Walsh, 14 Georgia Stanway; 7 Fran Kirby, 9 Ellen White, 11 Lauren Hemp
Substitutes: 2 Rachel Daly for Carter 34’, 17 Nikita Parris for Walsh 61’, 10 Ella Toone for Bronze 82’, 22 Alessia Russo for White 82’
Substitutes not used: 1 Mary Earps, 3 Demi Stokes, 13 Hannah Hampton, 16 Beth Mead, 18 Jordan Nobbs, 19 Niamh Charles, 20 Jill Scott, 23 Katie Zelem
Bookings: Greenwood 41’
Germany (4-2-3-1): 1 Merle Frohms, 4 Maximiliane Rall, 2 Sophia Kleinherne, 8 Laura Feldkamp, 15 Giulia Gwinn; 13 Sara Dabritz, 25 Fabienne Dongus; 18 Nicole Anyomi, 20 Lina Magull, 19 Klara Buhl, 7 Lea Schuller
Substitutes: 22 Jule Brand for Anyomi 45’, 26 Chantal Hagel for Dongus 72’, 16 Linda Dallmann for Magull 72’, 24 Selina Cerci for Buhl 88
Substitutes not used: 3 Leonie Maier, 11 Laura Freigang, 12 Martina Tufekovic, 14 Hasret Kayikci, 17 Felicitas Rauch, 21 Ann-Katrin Berger, 23 Sara Doorsoun, 27 Ramona Petzelberger
Bookings: Brand 79’
What Was Said
England head coach Sarina Wiegman
“As we expected, they were three top level games against very different opponents. We have seen many things from our team – different players, different starting line-ups and different styles.
“Today we were not tight enough on the ball but then you need to be compact as a team and try and get back in the game. We never got really into the game but we scored two goals in the end.
“I have seen a lot of progression. This team had so much experience already and some young players coming in. The eagerness, the commitment and the willingness to learn is immense. It’s so nice to work with. We have grown so much and so fast. It has been a pleasure so far.
“It’s hard to say about the summer in February. You want to keep all the players fit and in form. Other teams will develop too, so it’s hard to predict. But I’m very pleased with how we’ve been working together and I’m looking forward to our next camp in April already.”
England defender Millie Bright
“It’s brilliant. For us in the past, it has been a rocky road but we’re on a journey where we are all as one and we all know the outcome, which is we want to win.
“We’ve kind of kept that quiet and stuck to our game plan, and I’m just really proud of how far this squad has come. This is just the beginning.
“It wasn’t pretty out there but it’s another dynamic to our game. When things aren’t going right, we can change things and do it the dirty way, if you like, to get the job done. I’m really proud.
“We’re not bothered who scores, it’s just about getting the ball in the back of the net and getting the job done.
“It’s massive. It keeps our momentum. Coming to this tournament was about developing, people getting minutes and getting exposure against top teams. I think we’ve done that while getting the win. We always want to win, that’s why we participate in the game. We’ve developed and taken our game to another level, which we’ve shown with the win.”
England captain Leah Williamson
“I’m really proud. We’ve left here with nothing to talk about in the last two games so we thought we’d spice it up today! You come into a tournament wanting to win it and we’ve done that.
“It probably wasn’t our best game on the ball, it was very sloppy, which has maybe been a bit of a theme so that’s something to work on. But to fight ugly like that against a good Germany side is not easy so it was really good in the end.
“On days like today you learn how to win, even when things aren’t going your way or you need a bit of quality. It is good for people to take away knowing they have that in their locker.
“I think we learned so much about where we can make our strengths super-strengths. We did well – in all three games, I don’t think you could say we were outplayed and that’s really important confidence-wise.”
On her partnership with good friend Kiera Walsh, Williamson added: “She keeps me in check! Keira is one of the best in the world in that position and everyone sees that, so I’m in there to complement her and give my strengths in that position. Today was the best we’ve seen it in terms of being defensively secure. On the ball, I give it to her – when it comes to spraying passes, she’s unbelievable.”