Report: Belgium 3-2 England Women
- L. De Neve (9′)
- T. Wullaert (51′) (85′PEN)
- M. Detruyer (48′)
- K. Missipo (46′)
- J. Janssens (93′)
- L. Bronze (38′)
- F. Kirby (44′)
Goals from Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby cancelled out by the hosts in the UEFA Women's Nations League
Highlights: Belgium 3-2 England
See the best of the action from Leuven as the Lionesses lose out by the odd goal in five
Belgium v England
UEFA Women's Nations League
7.30pm GMT, Tuesday 31 October 2023
Den Dreef Stadium
Sarina Wiegman was pleased with the majority of England’s performance on Friday but has called on her side to be more ruthless in front of goal in the return fixture against Belgium on Tuesday night.
The Lionesses moved level with the Netherlands at the top of Group A1 in the Women’s Nations League on Friday following their 1-0 victory over Belgium at Leicester City’s stadium.
England enjoyed 71 per cent possession and had 23 shots at goal compared to Belgium’s 12 but only managed one first-half goal from Lauren Hemp.
Wiegman said: “I was happy with how we played on Friday and hopefully we showed that too. We could have made it easier for ourselves but how we were on the pitch and how wanted to play out of possession and in possession, we did really well.
“What we want to be a little better at in possession is in the final third. We create chances but it is that final pass or final execution where we need to do better.”
She continued: “Of course, we always talk about our game plan and the different parts of the game, so in possession, out of possession and in transitional moments.
“But what I really liked on Friday, was there was so much energy in the team and you saw the players’ real intention that we really wanted to win.
“If we lost the ball, we wanted to win it back and we had only one stage in the game where we dropped a little bit and then we picked up again.
“So what I want to see [on Tuesday night] at least is the same energy and intention of the whole team and the togetherness and then what we said in possession, get it to the next level, especially in the final third.
“We also want to prevent the counter-attacks because they are really trying to get into their counter-attacks and try to get free kicks and corners. So if we can have as less of those as possible then we will make it even easier on ourselves.”
Wiegman confirmed all of her squad are fit and training ahead of Tuesday’s match in Den Dreef in Leuven.
One of those to return to action for the Lionesses on Friday night was Fran Kirby, who had been ruled out of international action since February following knee surgery.
And her return was welcomed by midfielder Georgia Stanway, who joined Wiegman at the pre-match press conference on Monday morning.
Stanway said: “We feel good. Especially with the Belgium game the other day, it was a real show of who we are. We dominated possession, we created a lot but like Sarina said, we didn't get it over the line as many times as we wanted to.
“I think off the back of the World Cup, you're expected to have that little phase where it's about getting back on the ball and getting used to things again…I feel like we've kind of hit the ground running this camp and everybody's been firing in training.
“We've got people back and we've got Fran back, which is also a real highlight for us because I love playing with Fran as well. It's important to have numbers all over the pitch.”
Arriving in Leuven for training. 👋 pic.twitter.com/sgdLj2DC8L— Lionesses (@Lionesses) October 30, 2023
Friday’s 1-0 win was played out in front of 28,321 fans at the home of Leicester City, with around a quarter of that figure expected in the return match in Belgium.
And Wiegman said: “Yes [Belgium know how England play now after Friday’s match] but that also counts the same for us. I know Belgium were happy with their performance.
“It will be a totally different environment and atmosphere because we had about 30,000 fans there and there will be about 7,000 there tomorrow – and I know some of them will be English.
“That will be different because we won’t have those 30,000 fans behind us so we will have to do it ourselves – obviously we always have to do it ourselves, but it helps when the crowd makes noise.
“We know what we want and we are very motivated so we will see what that brings.”
Highlights: England 1-0 Belgium
Lauren Hemp's first-half goal was the difference at Leicester City's stadium
Belgium in profile
Coach: Ives Serneels
Captain: Tessa Wulaert
● England are unbeaten against Belgium in each of their last 13 meetings (W10 D3), averaging 2.6 goals per game against them during that run (34 in total).
● Belgium’s only previous win against England came in a friendly in Ostende in May 1980 (2-1) in what was their first ever home games against the Lionesses; they’ve lost three of the four such games since (D1).
● England lost their last away game, losing 2-1 to Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League in September – not since January 2007 have they lost successive away games, losing to Germany (5-1) and China PR (2-0).
● England ended a run of conceding in five successive games following their 1-0 win over Belgium last time out, only once in 2023 so far have they recorded shutouts in successive games, doing so in a run of three games in July.
● Belgium have won just one of their last seven matches in all competitions (D2 L4), beating Netherlands 2-1 in the Nations League in September.
● No player has scored more goals for England in 2023 than Lauren Hemp (five – level with Alessia Russo) after netting the only goal of the game in the reverse fixture. Indeed, only Lauren James (eight) has more goal involvements this calendar year for England than Hemp (Six – five goals, one assist).
● Chloe Kelly has created more chances for England than any other player in the UEFA Nations League so far (8), seven of which have been from open play; only four players across the competition have created more such opportunities (Katie McCabe and Mariona Caldentey both 9, Klara Bühl and Ana Borges both eight).
● Tessa Wullaert has scored at least twice as many goals as any other player for Belgium in 2023 so far four), while against England in the reverse fixture, she was the only player to register at least two shots (two) and create at least two chances (two) for Belgium.
Last time out: England 6-1 Belgium
A look back at our encounter with Belgium in Bristol in February 2023
Belgium v England
UEFA Women's Nations League
7.30pm GMT, Tuesday 31 October 2023
Den Dreef Stadium
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
England Women conceded late on to lose 3-2 to Belgium in the UEFA Women’s Nations League.
In an action-packed first half, England trailed early on through a Laura De Neve free-kick and then lost stalwart Alex Greenwood to a head injury in Leuven.
The Lionesses quickly rallied after a long delay, striking back through Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby in what was her first England start in a year, only for Tessa Wullaert to wipe out the lead.
Sarina Wiegman’s side were in the ascendancy for much of the second half but were undone by a late Wullaert penalty, as they slipped to a first defeat against Belgium in 14 meetings.
The hosts were a threat on the counter-attack all evening and it was an early break which led to the opening goal of the night.
After Chloe Kelly was penalised for handball, De Neve curled a delightful free-kick into the bottom corner.
England’s frustration turned to concern when Greenwood collided with Jassina Blom. After a 13-minute stoppage, the Manchester City defender was stretchered off, with Jess Carter coming on in her place.
Just six minutes after play restarted, England struck level as Bronze’s guided header from a deep Kelly cross bounced in off the crossbar.
England were well on top by this stage, and very nearly took the lead when Keira Walsh’s ball over the top found Bronze, but Alessia Russo failed to convert after the defender’s header was well saved.
Another raking pass from Walsh just two minutes later set England on their way to a second. Lauren Hemp then drove devilishly into the box and set up Kirby for a side-footed finish which pushed England ahead.
The first-half drama was not finished there, as Belgium hit back through captain Wullaert who raced clear to score her 76th international goal.
The Lionesses continued to dominate after the break but could not find the clinical edge required.
Russo missed from close range before Kirby was denied a second by a combination of a half-save from Brighton’s Nicky Evrard and a goal-line clearance from Tine Caigny.
England’s backline had to stay alert but were bypassed when a through ball found Wullaert. Only a rare but flying save from Mary Earps denied Belgium the lead.
The Lionesses kept pushing but to no avail, and were punished late on when Georgia Stanway was adjudged to have handled Yana Daniels’ drive.
Wullaert blasted her penalty into the corner to see Belgium go one point above the Lionesses in Group A, leaving Wiegman’s side three points behind the Netherlands ahead of their visit to Wembley on December 1, two matches still to play.
Only the top team in each League A group will progress to the Nations League final next year, with the two finalists (and the third-place team if France reach the last two) qualifying for the Olympic Games in Paris next summer.
England: 1. Mary Earps, 2. Lucy Bronze, 3. Niamh Charles, 4. Keira Walsh, 5. Alex Greenwood, 6. Millie Bright (c), 7. Chloe Kelly, 8. Georgia Stanway, 9. Alessia Russo, 10. Fran Kirby, 11. Lauren Hemp
Substitutes: 15. Jess Carter for Greenwood 31, 14. Ella Toone for Kirby 68, 19. Rachel Daly for Russo 68
Substitutes not used: 12. Esme Morgan, 13. Hannah Hampton, 16. Katie Zelem, 17. Lotte Wubben-Moy, 18. Grace Clinton, 20. Maya Le Tissier, 21. Ellie Roebuck, 22. Jessica Park, 23. Khiara Keating
Goals: Bronze 38, Kirby 44
Head coach: Sarina Wiegman
Belgium: 1. Nicky Evrard, 6. Tine De Caigny, 9. Tessa Wullaert (c), 10. Justine Vanhaevermaet, 11. Janice Cayman, 14. Jassina Blom, 18. Laura De Neve, 19. Sari Kees, 20 Marie Detruyer, 22. Laura Deloose, 23. Kassandra Missipo
Substitutes: 5. Sarah Wijnants for De Neve 40, 13. Yana Daniels for Detruyer 74, 8. Feli Delacauw for Blom 74, 17. Jill Janssens for Wullaert 89
Substitutes not used: 2. Davina Philtjens, 3. Shari Van Belle, 4. Constance Brackman, 7. Isabelle Iliano, 12. Diede Lemey, 15. Jody Vangheluwe, 16. Welma Fon, 21. Lisa Lichtfus
Bookings: Detruyer 45+3, Missipo 46, Janssens 93
Goals: De Neve 9, Wullaert 45+6, 85
Head coach: Ives Serneels