Arnold Clark Cup Day Three: Spain defeated Canada but England’s bigger win over Germany saw them claim the trophy
Anticipation was high for the final day of the Arnold Clark Cup, with Canada potentially able to finish the tournament with the first match of the afternoon. They failed to so against Spain and impressive England capitalised with a 3-1 victory against Germany, to become inaugural winners of the ACC. Reports by Chloe Atkins.
SPAIN 1 – 0 CANADA, 2.30pm ko, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
Jorge Vilda’s side arrived first, with loud music, a clear focus and two changes from the team that held England level at Carrow Road, including a switch of goalkeeper’s as Dolores Gallardo Nunez came in inbetween the sticks to get her first start of the tournament. Bev Priestman, meanwhile, made four changes to her Canada team with Shelina Zadorsky of Tottenham Hotspur getting her first start of the Arnold Clark Cup and Marie-Yasmine Alidou D’anjou making her senior debut.
After a fast and furious opening from both sides, Spain took the lead after 20 minutes through Alexia Putellas. She is regarded as one of the world’s best and she was showing why – her one-touch finish from Barcelona teammate Leila Ouahabi Elouahabi’s low cross blasted past ‘keeper Kailen Sheridan. As Vilda described afterwards “we dominated from that point forward”.
Spain remained on top throughout though Canada still created chances and seven minutes after the opening goal Jordyn Huitema’s diving header was agonisingly close, rebounding off the woodwork, and she continued to provide an aerial threat throughout.
Vilda’s side continued to look strong, displaying exceptionable confidence and technical ability comfortably working out of tight areas, beating the quick high press of the previous leaders of the tournament.
As the time ticked down, Canada pushed for a leveller and the tension grew. Priestman felt her side “had Spain camped in their half” but they could not find a way though. Her players were clearly disappointed and frustrated: “I think you hate losing more than you like winning,” she commented after the game. Although disappointed Priestman and her players were definitely focussing on the positives: “We come away with European experience and massive learning, so we are glad we attended the tournament. They (the team) are braver than they have ever been.”
ENGLAND 3 – 1 GERMANY, 7.30pm ko, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
With Canada’s earlier defeat it was in England’s hands. Could the Lionesses rise to the challenge, defeat Germany for only the second time in their history and become the first-ever champions of the Arnold Clark Cup?
Sarina Wiegman stuck to her word of trying new things and rotating players with only four remaining starters from their previous draw with Spain and Ellie Roebuck coming in as goalkeeper. Alex Greenwood was the only England player to start all three matches. Martin Voss-Tecklenberg too was shuffling her pack with five changes and arguably her strongest line-up of the tournament so far.
There were decent numbers in the stand for this one and Lauren Hemp really ignited the vibrant crowd as she danced around the German defenders with the ball at her feet, also utilising her pace either intercepting or stripping the ball off German opponents several times.
Ellen White – who else? – opened the scoring for England in the 15th minute. Georgia Stanway played a ball into Fran Kirby who benefitted from an accidental one-two with a defender and then feeding White who took one touch before poking the ball past Merle Frohms.
England, who were now without the injured Jess Carter, were still created chances but Germany were able to counter with just as much enthusiasm, looking to target the England right where and when Lucy Bronze joined England’s attacks. It finally bore fruit when Greenwood was adjudged to have fouled Lea Schuller and Lina Magull stepped up to curl a world-class free-kick over the wall and into Roebuck’s net. Just minutes before halftime and Germany were back level.
Germany came out of the gates flying after the restart and FIFA’s Young Player of the Tournament in 2019 Giulia Gwinn miss-fired just outside Roebuck’s six-yard box. It was a huge let off for Wiegman’s side who switched to a back three and went on to convincingly win the game and the tournament, with two late goals from Chelsea teammates Millie Bright – as a makeshift forward – and Fran Kirby.
Bright’s goal was a neat finish after being ‘in the right place at the right time’ as the ball came to her in the box, while Kirby’s 94th minute strike saw her pick up the ball in England’s half, drive length of the pitch, cut in front of the backtracking Sara Dabritz, touch it round another defender and fire a shot which bounced off the leg of Frohms and dropped perfectly over the line. It was a fine individual effort and almost vintage Kirby.
As soon as the play restarted, the referee singled the end of the game and confirmed England as Arnold Clark Cup Champions. The crowd and players were delighted and Wiegman, who usually displays little emotion, was also grinning from ear-to-ear: “When you see the teamwork and effort, it’s very satisfying.”
As the Lionesses teammates awarded each other the medals in turn, it was nice to see the clear bond within the squad as they hugged and congratulated each other.
As the first Arnold Clark Cup wraps up, we can turn our heads towards the build-up of the Euros and despite her disappointment, Voss-Tecklenburg summed up the exciting summer ahead: “There will be really good football and great games and everyone deserves a good crowd.”