Tuesday, April 23, 2024

What dreams are made of – Grace Clinton ‘buzzing’ after goal on England debut

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Feb 2024

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Grace Clinton described scoring on her England debut as “what dreams are made of” after the Lionesses completed a 7-2 rout of Austria in the first of two international friendlies in Spain.

Clinton headed home Lauren Hemp’s delivery in the 19th minute at the Estadio Nuevo Mirador for her first senior international goal, having minutes earlier seen an effort come back off of a post.

The 20-year-old looked comfortable throughout her 62 minutes on the pitch and her performance drew praise from boss Sarina Wiegman.

Clinton told ITV: “It’s what dreams are made of. I’m very happy. I did picture this moment since I was a child, definitely, but I didn’t know it would be with my head!

“I’m just absolutely buzzing.”

The Liverpudlian has impressed in the Women’s Super League this season for Tottenham, where she is on loan from Manchester United, scoring four goals and picking up two assists across 13 league appearances.

She hopes her efforts for club and now country will be enough to sufficiently impress Wiegman, who said she would use this encounter and Tuesday’s Italy friendly as a chance to experiment ahead of April’s opening Euro 2025 qualifiers.

Clinton, whose parents were able to witness their daughter’s achievement in person, added: “It’s so competitive, so many great players in the squad and to be in and around them is an unbelievable experience, so to be competing in there is what you want to be doing.”

Alessia Russo opened the scoring inside three minutes and finished with two goals and an assist in Algeciras, while her Arsenal team-mate Beth Mead also bagged a brace and late goals from Jess Carter and Rachel Daly completed the rout.

Wiegman is notoriously reluctant to single out specific players, but told ITV: “I think that’s a dream debut for (Clinton). I think she played well too, she had done really well in training and plays well for Tottenham and I think she was enjoying herself.

“It was a very good goal, so I’m very happy for her.”

The biggest concern for the England boss will be that both of Virginia Kirchberger’s headed goals for Austria came from set-pieces on either side of half-time.

Wiegman said: “I’m so happy with the seven goals and the performance, of course there’s also the little things you’re not happy with.

“We conceded two goals out of corners, one we didn’t block great and the second one we should have got the header. Of course we want to do that better.”

England’s friendly double-header marks their first games of 2024 and also their first since failing to qualify for the semi-finals of the Nations League after finishing runners-up to Wiegman’s native Netherlands, who advanced to the final four of the new Olympic qualifying tournament.

Those semi-finals were also staged on Friday night, with World Cup winners Spain booking their trip to the Paris Games by beating the Netherlands 3-0 to reach the final, where they will meet France.

Due to France’s automatic qualification as hosts, the third and final European Olympic place will be awarded to the winners of a third-place play-off between Germany and the Netherlands.

Wiegman insisted her European champions have moved on from the disappointment of not qualifying a Great Britain team for the Games, adding: “The full focus is on the Euro qualifiers, starting with these friendlies and then for the Euros next year.”

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