City fans were in for a treat this international break with a host of players on duty for their respective countries and it began with no less than ten City players in action on home soil at the Arnold Clark Cup.
Canada were the competitive test Sarina Wiegman’s England side were in much need of playing after facing lower ranked teams in World Cup Qualifying, and the occasion did not disappoint with the two playing out an eye-catching game. Lauren Hemp impressed as did Keira Walsh and Janine Beckie, with Walsh’s long balls opening up the Canadians. But it was two lovely strikes from Millie Bright and Beckie that drew the sides 1-1 at the Riverside.
Demi Stokes, Walsh and Beckie all saw out the ninety minutes, with Alex Greenwood and Hemp getting 65 minutes. Georgia Stanway came on for Ella Toone at the start of the second half, with Lucy Bronze and Ellen White featuring in the later stages. Ellie Roebuck and loanee Jill Scott were unused substitutions.
Next up was a trip to Hemp’s birthplace and Carrow Road, where the Lionesses took on Euro 2022 favourites, Spain.
After making nine changes from the team in Middlesbrough, Rachel Daly and Greenwood were the only remaining players. Wiegman handed Aston Villa goalkeeper Hannah Hampton a debut, with Bronze, White, Stanway and Scott all coming into the starting XI.
The first half wasn’t much to talk about apart from the noticeable lack of attacking threat and in particular the absence of Hemp. The City player being introduced at half time and making an instant impact by almost scoring on her homecoming, but was unlucky to see her effort bounce off the post. Walsh came on for Nikita Parris early in the second half while Scott made way for Leah Williamson, with Stanway coming off in the last ten minutes in place of Toone; Demi Stokes and Ellie Roebuck were unused subs.
Beckie played ninety minutes in Canada’s second game against Germany and also got herself an assist, sending in the cross that found Vanessa Gilles to put Bev Priestman’s side top of the table.
The final round of games at Molineux saw Beckie play 77 minutes against an impressive Spanish team. The City player was not able to get on the ball as much or have as big of an impact as the two previous games. The Canadians were frustrated throughout and despite the six added minutes, were unable to find the net, leaving Jorge Vilda’s side with a 1-0 win and the top spot, with England going into the final game of the tournament against Germany.
Seven City players made the Lionesses starting XI and it was Ellen White who opened the scoring fifteen minutes in. However, Lina Magull equalised for Germany with a free kick on 41 minutes. England came back after the break looking a little shaky having conceded 4 minutes before half-time, and it took until the latter stages before Bright and Fran Kirby wrapped up the 3-1 win and the Arnold Clark Cup for the Lionesses.
Stanway played until just after the hour mark before being replaced by Nikita Parris. Hemp and Parris swapped wings for a while unsuccessfully with White and Bronze coming off with eight minutes left. Roebuck, Walsh, Greenwood and Lauren played the full ninety minutes while Demi and Jill were unused substitutions.
The Young Lionesses were in action too with Jess Park, Khiara Kheating, Ruby Mace, Grace Pilling and Jemima Dahou all receiving a call up for the U23’s, Development squad and U17’s respectively; Ginny Lackey was unfortunate to miss out after a recent ACL injury.
Park was a half time substitution in the 3-2 loss to France before playing around 75 minutes in their 1-1 draw, while Keating and Mace played in a 3-0 win over Finland in Marbella, and the goalkeeper got a full run out against Denmark with Mace an unused substitute in a 2-1 win. Pilling played against Norway in horrendous conditions at St. George’s Park with England unfortunately losing 3-1 and Dahou featured in their second outing; a 0-0 draw.
Several other City players were also called upon with Caroline Weir heading to the Pinatar Cup with Scotland, while Julie Blakstad and Filippa Angeldahl travelled to Portugal for the Algarve Cup with Norway and Sweden respectively.
Weir played 90 minutes in the Scots 3-1 loss to a strong Wales side, as well as 90 minutes against Slovakia and assisting Abi Harrison’s goal in the first five minutes. Caroline started against familiar opponents Hungary but was taken off at half time as Scotland went on to beat their fellow World Cup Qualifying group team 3-1 on penalties to finish fifth.
Meanwhile Blakstad clocked 90 minutes against Portugal in a 2-0 loss and was an unused substitution in Norway’s 2-0 loss to Italy. Julie was also an unused substitute as Norway faced off against the hosts once again, this time coming out victorious in a 2-0 win to finish third.
Filippa Angeldahl and Sweden were awarded a 3-0 win over Denmark due to Covid cases and moved straight on to Portugal. The City midfielder had a good strike hit the post early on in the first half and another go wide on the half hour mark. She went on to play 80 minutes in a strong 4-0 win for the Scandinavian side, which saw them through to the final against Italy.
Angeldahl started the game on the bench in the final, however she came on during the last five minutes and was eligible to take a penalty as the game drew 1-1. The City midfielder scored her penalty kick and the Swedes won the final 6-5.
Over in the Caribbean, Bunny Shaw captained Jamaica to a 4-0 and 6-1 win over Bermuda and Grenada in their CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, scoring twice in both games and assisting two against Grenada.
Upon return to Manchester, City’s attention will turn to the fifth Derby of the season and a trip back to Leigh Sports Village for the FA Cup 5th Round tie against Man United, kick off 12:30pm.
After that it’s all focus on the Continental Cup Final against Chelsea at Plough Lane, a tie eight years in the making and a competition that the Blues last won in 2019, beating Arsenal on penalties at Bramall Lane. Kick off 17:15pm.