England retain Arnold Clark Cup as Lionesses cruise to dominant win over Belgium
Chloe Kelly and skipper Leah Williamson notched a brace apiece as England completed a successful defence of the Arnold Clark Cup by thrashing Belgium 6-1 at Ashton Gate.
Needing only to avoid defeat to retain the trophy, the Lionesses took the lead via Kelly in the 12th minute following good work by Lauren James, before Williamson’s header doubled the advantage just prior to the break.
Kelly then put dominant England three goals up five minutes into the second half, making the most of the opportunity when goalkeeper Nicky Evrard spilled Ella Toone’s shot.
While the Manchester City forward, England’s match-winner in last summer’s Euros final, fell just short of a hat-trick, seeing a further effort clip the bar, she ends up as the tournament’s leading scorer with three goals.
There was also a 78th-minute Julie Biesmans own goal, and late finishes from Lucy Bronze and Williamson, either side of Elena Dhont’s reply for Belgium, as England made it three wins from three outings in the round-robin tournament and 25 in 29 games unbeaten overall under Sarina Wiegman.
They finish three points clear of the Belgians at the top of the final Arnold Clark Cup table, with Italy third after beating South Korea 2-1 in Wednesday’s earlier match at the Bristol stadium.
Having kicked off the calendar year in fine style, the European champions will next be in action in April with clashes against Brazil at Wembley and Australia in Brentford as preparations continue ahead of the summer’s World Cup.
The tournament in Australia and New Zealand starts on July 20 and sees England in Group D with China, Denmark and Haiti, who secured their place with a 2-1 play-off victory over Chile on Wednesday.