Chloe Kelly hits first international goal as England Women ease past Belgium

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Chloe Kelly marked her England comeback with her first international goal as the Lionesses beat Belgium 3-0 at Molineux in their first warm-up match ahead of next month’s home Euros.

Having come on at the break for her first international appearance since returning to action from an ACL injury in April, winger Kelly put Sarina Wiegman’s side ahead with a deflected shot in in the 62nd minute.

Fellow substitute Rachel Daly added a strike four minutes later to double the lead, and the third then came with seven minutes of normal time remaining when skipper Leah Williamson hit the bar and the ball went in off goalkeeper Nicky Evrard.

It proved a comfortable victory in the end after a first half that had seen the hosts fail to make a breakthrough despite creating a flurry of chances, which included Williamson being denied by a goal-line clearance.

England, playing the day after Wiegman named her final 23-player squad for this summer’s tournament, will now face Holland at Elland Road in eight days and then Switzerland in Zurich before opening their Euros campaign by taking on Austria at Old Trafford on July 6.

Wiegman made two changes to her starting line-up from the 5-0 World Cup qualifying win over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in April, Demi Stokes and Lotte Wubben-Moy coming into the team for Ella Toone and Jess Carter.

Wearing black armbands in tribute following the recent death of Wiegman’s sister, England made a positive start to the contest, with Lauren Hemp teeing up a Georgia Stanway effort that was skewed wide and Ellen White seeing a shot pushed away by Evrard.

Hemp then brought a save out of Evrard herself having got past a couple of defenders, White was unsuccessful with a header – also connecting with the goalkeeper’s fist in the process – and Stanway burst forward and fired wide again.

As England continued to create chances, White and Beth Mead both miscued as they attempted strikes around the half-hour mark.

Soon after, Belgium’s first real opportunity was sent wide by Feli Delacauw, who then made a challenge on Mead at the other end that prompted calls for a penalty from England fans, but nothing was given.

England then went close in the 38th minute when Williamson produced a tidy dink over Evrard, only to see the ball headed off the line by Sari Kees.

A triple England substitution at the break included the fit-again Kelly replacing Mead to claim her first cap under Wiegman, having last featured for her country in April 2021, shortly before getting injured, and Daly coming on.

Chloe Kelly (left)
Chloe Kelly (left) celebrates the opener with Keira Walsh (Nick Potts/PA)

Kelly then had a moment to savour as she put England in front, receiving ball from Lucy Bronze on the right, cutting inside and hitting a shot that went in via a deflection off Amber Tysiak.

Moments later it was 2-0 when Williamson’s shot bounced off a Belgium shirt and the ball fell to Daly, who fired in.

England was unsuccessful with two headed efforts and Williamson shot wide, as did Belgium’s Elena Dhont, before Wiegman’s team subsequently wrapped things up as another substitute, Nikita Parris, saw her header blocked on the line, Williamson struck the loose ball against the bar and it went in off Evrard for an own goal.

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