England coach Sarina Wiegman ahead of the UEFA Nations League women's match between Belgium and England at the Den Dreef stadium on October 31, 2023 in Leuven, Belgium.
England manager Sarina Wiegman.
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England ‘sloppiness’ takes Olympics destiny out of Lionesses’ hands

England boss Sarina Wiegman bemoaned her side’s sloppiness in Tuesday’s 3-2 defeat to Belgium which has put their Olympic aspirations in jeopardy. 

Laura de Neve gave the Belgians an early lead at the Den Dreef Stadion before goals from Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby put the Lionesses ahead. Tessa Wullaert equalised deep into first-half injury time before netting the winner with an 85th-minute penalty.

Wiegman felt England “dominated the game totally”, a statement reflected in the statistics; the visitors enjoyed 70 percent of the possession and took 18 shots, but only five of them were on target. Belgium, on the other hand, managed just five shots, but four were of them hit the target.

“They scored three goals and we scored two,” Wiegman said after the final whistle. “That’s the simple (answer).

“This was a game, I think, when we should have been tighter on the ball. We weren’t great in the tempo.

“We did create lots of chances and still dominated the game totally. But, at moments, we lost the ball and we knew they were ever so dangerous on the counter-attack.

“We were sloppy on the ball and they were ready for that. They’re not a possession game. They play the long ball and as soon as they win it, they’re gone.

“Then we have to be tight, especially when we build and create. At moments we don’t expect to lose the ball. That’s what I said. We didn’t do that well enough today.”

In order for Great Britain to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Paris, England must reach the Uefa Nations League final, or at the very least be the third-placed team if hosts France reach the final.

The Lionesses now face a battle to reach the knockout phase of the Nations League as they sit third in League A Group 1, three points behind Netherlands – their next opponents.

“It’s very tight … we can only do what we can do, so we know what we have to do. We play at Wembley [against the Netherlands], that’s always very exciting, so we’re looking forward to that.

“But we also want to show again what we are, and that we can do better, against a top opponent of course, too. We have to win and we have to win by more than one, and then we have to win [against] Scotland, so [the task] is very clear.”

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