Wiegman hails Lauren James’ efforts and criticises ‘unacceptable’ pitch after England trounce South Korea | The Sun
SARINA WIEGMAN hopes Lauren James maintains her consistency as the Lionesses outclassed South Korea in a 4-0 trouncing.
And the head coach hit out at the state of the pitch the teams played on at Stadium MKcalling it “unacceptable”.
Along with winger Chloe Kelly, James shone on Thursday night, netting her first senior international goal in England’s Arnold Clark Cup opener.
And Alessia Russo nabbed her first international goal of the year as the Lionesses fired a warning to their World Cup rivals.
England boss Wiegman said: "Lauren has been a talent of course for a long time.
"She just needed to be available and needed that time at Chelsea.
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"She worked really hard at Chelsea and that's what you can see. Then she can take that next step in the national team.
"Now she's playing on that level with Chelsea and England to improve.
"I hope she gets consistency, stays fit and keeps enjoying herself."
England’s opening goal from a pen was preceded by James causing problems for South Korea’s defence who struggled to mark the forward.
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Wiegman added: "Lauren is very tight on the ball and can dribble well too.
"That is a strength from herself and also our team. It was nice with her dribble that she got fouled and won that penalty.
"We have so many attacking players that are really good. We have opportunities."
While the hosts’ display was slick, the condition of the pitch at Stadium MK was not.
And it was something that did not go unnoticed by Wiegman who expected better.
The Lionesses chief added: "I think this pitch was unacceptable.
"This stadium is really nice, but we can’t play on a pitch like this anymore at this level. It is just really unacceptable.”
Last year’s contest saw England lift their first trophy under Wiegman before going on to win the Euros.
Perhaps last night’s defeat of the tenth best side on the planet may be a good World Cup omen for England.
On a night that saw the Lionesses pay tribute to Beth Mead’s late mother June by wearing badges in support of Ovarian Cancer Action, her team-mates put on a fine display.
The visitors forays forward were few with England comfortably dealing with their counters.
This included Ella Toone getting back to force a goal-kick after winning her duel with Choe Yu-ri.
The hosts struck the woodwork in the 37th minute with Russo latching on to James’ pass before unleashing a shot that ricocheted off the post.
James tormented South Korea's defence with her 12th minute strike blocked before she later won a penalty smashed home by Georgia Stanway in the 39th minute.
The hosts made it 2-0 in the 45th minute with Chloe Kelly’s strike flying over the head of goalkeeper Kim Jung-Mi following a huge deflection.
There was no let up as Russo got in on the scoring.
After good work on the flank from Alex Greenwood, she chipped a 49th minute shot over the South Korea shot stopper.
And James, who was player of the match, made it 4-0 firing home in the 77th minute.
She was teed up by Lucy Bronze with the Barcelona defender making her 100th England appearance.
The finish put the icing on the cake of a solid display with Rachel Daly, Laura Coombs and Katie Robinson among the players making second-half substitute appearances.
South Korea boss Colin Bell, whose team face Belgium on Sunday at the CBS Arena, reckons England are currently the best side in the world.
He said: "We would usually high press, try to be offensive but we almost basically had to choose the catenaccio, the Italian way of parking three or four buses.
"When the team is fit and in a real good flow, we have a good team, talented players.
"We know three or four top players are missing, but it's an experience we didn't want to miss."
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A duel with Italy is up next for England with the team’s facing off at the CBS Arena at 3:15 pm on Sunday.
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