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England Lay Down Marker For UEFA Women’s Euro By Winning Arnold Clark Cup

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Two dramatic late goals from Chelsea’s Millie Bright and Fran Kirby won the England Women’s soccer team the Arnold Clark Cup, the first edition of a new four-team international tournament they staged as a warm-up for this summer’s European Championships to be played in the country.

After draws with Olympic champions, Canada in Middlesbrough, and pre-tournament favorites, Spain in Norwich, they defeated eight-time European champions Germany on home soil for their first time in their history to finish on five points ahead of the Spaniards in the final standings on goal difference.

The win over Germany mirrors the euphoria which greeted the one for the men’s team at Euro 2020, who had not defeated their arch rivals in their own country for 46 years going into that game last summer. The host country will hope a similar level of patriotism will be engendered by the women’s team who hope to break through their own glass ceiling of three successive semi-final losses in major tournaments and emulate the men’s team by reaching this summer’s European championship final at Wembley Stadium.

The England Women’s team have never won a major international tournament, twice losing in the final of the European Championship in 1984 and 2009. They will be wary of reading too much into a pre-tournament victory having won the 2019 She Believes Cup ahead of the United States only to lose to them when it really mattered in the semi-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup that summer.

After the match, England head coach Sarina Wiegman played down the hype that may be generated by winning this friendly tournament claiming that victory would not go to the heads of her players and staff. “This is a step towards the Euros, we’ll stay neutral.”

Wiegman was honest enough to admit that this was not even the Lionesses best performance this week. “We didn’t play a great match today, I think we played better against Spain. I think we showed resilience, that’s really satisfying.”

The first goal by Ellen White’s goal, her 49th goal in an England shirt, moved her ahead of Harry Kane as her country’s leading active goalscorer. Already the leading female goalscorer in England’s history, she moved alongside legendary World Cup winner Bobby Charlton on the all-time leading scorer list, second only to Wayne Rooney on 53.

Spain’s win over Canada earlier in the day meant England had to defeat Germany to win the tournament, with the score tied at 1-1 going into the last ten minutes, Wiegman threw defender Millie Bright forward in search of a late winning goal. The tactic worked as the Chelsea centre back who scored England’s only previous goal in the tournament, found the net again to finish the tournament as the unlikely winner of the Golden Boot as joint-top goalscorer alongside the Ballon D’Or winner Alexia Putellas.

Wiegman revealed that “we wanted to get some extra energy in the game and score a goal. We needed an extra player up front, she’s really strong, a good header of the ball and good with her feet. I know that’s a risk, but it went our way.”

She reiterated that the lessons learned from the three games were more important than winning the tournament. “It’s nice to win a tournament, you always want to win. I always want more and it’s good to see different styles of play. I think we approached every game with our style of play, we have some principles. Then you are facing different opponents with different strengths. We got lots of information about ourselves and our style of play.”

England will been drawn against Austia, Norway and Northern Ireland in the group stage of the UEFA Women’s Euro in July. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the quarter-finals where their likely opponents are one of the teams they have played in the Arnold Clark Cup this week, Germany or Spain.



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