Clinton scores on ‘dream debut’ as England hit seven

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Grace Clinton celebrates

Grace Clinton had a “dream debut” as she scored for England in their thrashing of Austria in a friendly match, said manager Sarina Wiegman.

Midfielder Clinton, on loan at Tottenham from Manchester United this season, headed in England’s second goal having struck the post minutes earlier.

“I think that’s a dream debut for her,” Wiegman told ITV Sport. “She played well and has done really well in training. She was enjoying herself and it was a very good goal. I’m very happy for her.”

On an impressive night for the Lionesses in Spain, Alessia Russo scored twice, as did Beth Mead, while Jess Carter and Rachel Daly added to England’s tally.

Austria scored twice from set-pieces, which will frustrate England, but it was a good display overall.

Having failed to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games on behalf of Great Britain – meaning they had no competitive fixtures scheduled this month – the Lionesses opted for a warm-weather training camp in Marbella.

They hoped to be tested by Austria, who they beat 1-0 in the opening match at Euro 2022, but Wiegman’s side could easily have had even more than the seven they did get.

Russo capitalised on a rapid start with the opener, then Clinton’s header landed before the rain began to fall at Estadio Nuevo Mirador.

A brief lapse in concentration allowed Virginia Kirchberger to head in Austria’s first corner.

But Russo ensured England’s pressure in the second half was rewarded with a cool finish from close range after Georgia Stanway, Maya Le Tissier and Ella Toone all had chances.

Carter’s instinctive flick made it five and – despite another Kirchberger header – Mead’s strike when Lauren James’ effort bounced back off the post and Daly’s late goal capped off a strong performance.

England face Italy in a second friendly match on Tuesday, hoping to continue preparations for the defence of their European title at the 2025 finals, which they hope to qualify for this summer.

“Going into the game, it was probably the biggest one of my career so far, so for it to go like that, I’m very happy,” said Clinton.

“Sarina told me at the start of the week that she was going to try me in the number eight position. I’m open to a challenge. It’s nice to be deeper and get on the ball more.

“To be in there playing with [Georgia] Stanway and Toone – they really helped me out a lot. It’s so competitive. There are so many great players and to be around them is unbelievable experience.

“My mum and dad flew out this morning to come and watch the game. I can’t wait to go and see them.”

Clinton takes her chance as England show superiority

England celebrate

Wiegman had always intended to make changes to the side, and injuries to centre-backs Leah Williamson and Millie Bright opened the door for young defenders Le Tissier and Esme Morgan.

They were keen to take their opportunity, as was Manchester City’s Jess Park, who came on as a substitute in a midfield role she has performed well in for her club this month.

Toone was drafted into the starting XI minutes before kick-off when Chelsea’s Fran Kirby hobbled out of the warm-up with a ‘minor knee irritation’, which the medical staff did not want to take any risks with.

Chloe Kelly, who suffered a minor injury in training on Thursday, was also absent.

“Fran had some little irritation on her knee,” said Wiegman. “In this moment, we’re not going to take any risks with anyone. We just said: ‘We’ll take you off and assess it tomorrow.’

“Hopefully it’s just a little bit of irritation and we can move on. Chloe is doing better and we hope she will be back for Tuesday.”

But there were no signs of disruption as England were fluid from the start, linking up nicely all over the pitch and taking advantage of space left in behind Austria’s defence.

Le Tissier had a good chance from a corner in the second half but her header was well-saved by Austria goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger, while Morgan looked comfortable at centre-back.

Arsenal striker Russo was heavily involved, starting and finishing the move which put England 1-0 up, before slotting in her second after the break.

Mead found herself in good positions to capitalise on rebounds too and Clinton’s goal was just reward for a strong individual display.

Clinton’s form while on loan at Tottenham this season has thrust her into the limelight and she will be hoping a strong 12 months will help her cement a place in Wiegman’s squad for Euro 2025.

She certainly did enough here to merit another opportunity, as did Le Tissier, which will please Wiegman and shows England’s strength in depth.

All in all, it was a very comfortable evening for England, who were keen to put behind them the disappointment of their Women’s Nations League campaign.

“I’m just really happy with this game, the way we played, the intentions we had,” added Wiegman.

“We scored seven goals which is really good and created a lot of chances. I’m happy with the performance, but there’s also a little thing that you’re not happy with. We conceded two goals out of corners.

“We want to do that better on Tuesday [against Italy] and there’s always something to learn.”



Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Hampton
  • 2Le Tissier
  • 5Morgan
  • 6GreenwoodSubstituted forWubben-Moyat 45′minutes
  • 3CharlesSubstituted forCarterat 62′minutes
  • 8ClintonSubstituted forParkat 62′minutes
  • 4StanwaySubstituted forWalshat 78′minutes
  • 14Toone
  • 7Mead
  • 9RussoSubstituted forDalyat 62′minutes
  • 11HempSubstituted forJamesat 45′minutes


  • 10Kirby
  • 12Carter
  • 13Keating
  • 15Wubben-Moy
  • 16James
  • 17Bronze
  • 18Walsh
  • 19Daly
  • 20Park
  • 21Earps
  • 22Turner
  • 23Beever-Jones


Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Zinsberger
  • 6SchiechtlSubstituted forHanshawat 63′minutes
  • 11Georgieva
  • 13KirchbergerBooked at 49mins
  • 20Naschenweng
  • 18Purtscheller
  • 9Zadrazil
  • 17PuntigamSubstituted forFeiersingerat 63′minutes
  • 8DunstSubstituted forKolbat 88′minutes
  • 12CampbellSubstituted forBillaat 77′minutes
  • 14HöbingerSubstituted forSchaschingat 77′minutes


  • 2D’Angelo
  • 3Klein
  • 7Pinther
  • 10Feiersinger
  • 15Billa
  • 16Schasching
  • 19Hanshaw
  • 21Kresche
  • 22Kolb
  • 23Pal

Ainara Andrea Acevedo Dudley

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Match ends, England 7, Austria Women 2.

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