England 1-0 Belgium - UEFA Women's Nations League match centre
- L. Hemp (13′)
A first-half goal from Lauren Hemp seals a vital victory for the Lionesses in the UEFA Women's Nations League
Highlights: England 1-0 Belgium
See the best of the action from Leicester as the Three Lions get back to winning ways in the Nations League
England v Belgium
UEFA Women's Nations League
7.45pm BST, Friday 27 October 2023
King Power Stadium, Leicester
Sarina Wiegman said England will be looking to bounce back from their defeat against the Netherlands when they take on Belgium in front of a sell-out crowd on Friday night but will have to do so without Lauren James.
The Lionesses take on Belgium at Leicester City’s stadium on Friday currently one point behind their opponents in the Nations League following their 2-1 loss to the Netherlands, who are also on three points.
England will then travel to Belgium for the return fixture on Tuesday but they will have to do so without talented forward James.
Wiegman said: "Of course, we are a group of 25 but unfortunately not everyone is fit. Lauren James is not ready and she won't be ready for Tuesday.
“Also Lotte [Wubben Moy] is on the pitch so we'll assess her today and hopefully she gets through alright. Everyone else is good."
On James, she added: “It is nothing to worry about. She picked up a concussion and we have to be very careful and follow the protocols, which we always do. So it is just too short [a time frame] for the two upcoming games."
The Nations League sees the European countries split into three Leagues, with the top 16 teams spread across four groups in League A.
The countries in each group then play each other home and away, with the top side in each League A pool progressing to the four-team Finals next year.
The two sides who reach the Nations League final will then qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris next summer, with the third-place side also qualifying should hosts France make the final.
Wiegman, who would lead the Team GB football team should they qualify for Paris 2024, said: “We always want to win and we know the expectations are high, but we have our own expectations too, and what we really want to do.
“Of course, we lost the last game [against the Netherlands] and we were not happy with that and we want to bounce back.
“What we have been working on is to improve our game again, do the things right and play very well against Belgium, and have a good result. That's how we approach it so those are the expectations too.”
England have faced Belgium twice under Wiegman, winning 3-0 in June 2022 ahead of the EUROs and then 6-1 on their way to lifting the Arnold Clark Cup earlier this year.
But Belgium have shown they can hold their own with some of Europe’s best during the Nations League, defeating the Netherlands 2-1.
Wiegman, who is celebrating her birthday today, said: “They're really competing for something in the Nations League, whereas the other two games were friendlies.
“I think they're in a very different situation at the moment. They play with a different shape, they play with different players and they have been in transition. They're very competitive, they're very well organised, and they're tough in duels too. And as they showed in September, they're very hard to beat."
Friday night’s match will be played in front of a sold-out crowd at the home of Leicester City, the club goalkeeper Mary Earps joined from grassroots football at the age of 14.
🔴 🎙 Live from St. George's Park 🔴 🎙— Lionesses (@Lionesses) October 26, 2023
The birthday boss is joined by Mary Earps! 👏 https://t.co/5IbC4b37XP
Earps attended Leicester City’s what-was-then Centre of Excellence and it was there where she first ‘started to take football more seriously’.
And as if playing at Leicester City’s ground was not special enough for Earps, there will also be a very special fan in attendance.
"It's great – the Midlands massive, I have no doubt they'll come out in big numbers,” Earps said.
“It's always special to play close to home. I've not had the opportunity to do that in Nottingham yet so hopefully that is on the cards one day soon – hint, hint, nudge, nudge.
“Leicester was the club that I grew up playing for as it was my Centre of Excellence. It was the team that I really feel I did a lot of my developing in my younger years so it's really special to go back in an England shirt.
“I'm really looking forward to it and my gran can come as well, so that's a huge, huge bonus and I'm really excited about that because she never gets to come to games."
A birthday on camp! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/vgJjieFhEu— Lionesses (@Lionesses) October 26, 2023
Key facts and stats
- Belgium’s only victory against England was in a 1980 friendly match, winning 2-1 in Ostende. On English soil, they have lost five of their six games against the Lionesses, drawing one.
- England have lost two of their last three matches, more than in their previous 38 matches under Sarina Wiegman (W30 D7 L1). The Lionesses haven’t lost consecutive games since April 2021, when they lost to France and Canada.
- This will be England’s first-ever game at the King Power Stadium. They did play one game at Leicester City’s old ground, Filbert Street, in September 1980, drawing 1-1 with Sweden in a friendly.
- Belgium have won just one of their last six matches in all competitions – drawing two and losing the other three – but it was a 2-1 win over the Netherlands on matchday one of the UEFA Women’s Nations League, meaning they currently top the group.
- England haven’t lost a competitive international on English soil since a 1-0 defeat to Sweden at Ewood Park in June 2005 at the European Championship finals. They are unbeaten in 49 games since (W42 D7). Across those 49 games, they have scored 188 goals and conceded just nine times.
- Alessia Russo has scored four goals in her last six England international appearances. She netted in England’s 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands on matchday two of the UEFA Women’s Nations League, the first time she’d scored in and lost a Lionesses match (W11 L1).
- Lauren Hemp has been involved in five goals in her last seven England appearances (4 goals, 1 assist). Since Sarina Wiegman’s first game, only Beth Mead (21 goals, 18 assists) has been involved in more goals for the Lionesses than Hemp (14 goals, 13 assists).
Last time out: England 6-1 Belgium
A look back at our encounter with Belgium in Bristol in February 2023
Belgium in profile
Coach: Ives Serneels
Captain: Tessa Wulaert
England Squad News
How to watch or stream
This game will be broadcast in the UK on ITV.
Highlights: Belgium 1-1 England
A look back at our meeting with Belgium during EURO 2017 qualifying as Jill Scott rescues a point for the :Lionesses
The Lionesses dominated possession in the opening exchanges and turned it into a goal when Hemp struck in the 13th minute.
England continued to push for a second but could not find a way through, instead settling for a professional victory and three points ahead of the return fixture in four days.
Despite having the upper hand early on, England were close to going behind in the ninth minute as Justine Vanhaevermaet’s header required a diving save from Mary Earps, who hoovered up the ball after she had parrying it onto the post.
Gaps continued to open for England as Ella Toone sent a shot at Nicky Evrard in goal before Alex Greenwood fired in a shot from distance that the Belgium keeper again had to deal with.
It was then Greenwood’s centre-half partner Bright’s turn to shoot from distance, she was willed on by the crowd as her attempt was deflected behind.
Minutes later, Bright was called into defend against the pacy Tessa Wullaert with Bright sliding in to block the ball in the penalty box and deny Belgium an attempt on goal.
Chloe Kelly and Alessia Russo then linked up as Kelly produced a strong run into the box, with her deflected shot finding Russo who fired just over on the volley.
Substitute Sarah Wijnants forced Earps into another spectacular save with a long-range shot before an England substitute made their own big impression.
Seconds after coming on for her first appearance in over a year, Fran Kirby set up a chance for Kelly after strong work on the edge of the box.
England continued to knock on the door as the minutes ticked towards full time but could not find a way past the Belgian defence, with Evrard even using her knees to save an effort from Hemp.
The two sides will meet again on Tuesday in Leuven as the UEFA Women’s Nations League moves into the second half of the group stages.
Substitutes: 19 Rachel Daly for Russo 64’, 14 Fran Kirby for Toone 65’, 22 Jess Park for Kelly 85’
Substitutes not used: 13 Hannah Hampton, 21 Ellie Roebuck, 23 Khiara Keating, 12 Esme Morgan, 15 Jessica Carter, 16 Katie Zelem, 17 Lotte Wubben-Moy, 18 Grace Clinton, 20 Maya Le Tissier
Head Coach: Sarina Wiegman
Belgium (3-4-3): 1 Nicky Evrard, 6 Tina De Caigny, 8 Feli Delacauw, 9 Tessa Wullaert (captain), 10 Justine Vanhaevermaet, 11 Janice Cayman, 15 Jody Vangheluwe, 18 Laura De Neve, 20 Marie Detruyer, 22 Laura Deloose, 23 Kassandra Missipo
Substitutes: 5 Sarah Wijnants for Vangheluwe 46’, 13 Yana Daniels for Detruyer 76’, 14 Jassina Blom for Delacauw 76’, 17 Jill Janssens for Missipo 87’
Substitutes not used: 12 Diede Lemey, 21 Lisa Lichtfus, 2 Davina Philtjens, 3 Shari Van Belle, 4 Constance Brackman, 7 Isabelle Iliano, 16 Welma Fon, 19 Amy Littel
Coach: Ives Serneels