Japan Women 0-2 England Women: Lionesses Top Group D with 2-0 smash & grab win


Phil Neville’s England Women’s side returned back to Nice’s Allianz Rivera following their 1-0 victory over Argentina last Friday for their final Group D game with Japan. The latter went in knowing a victory against the Three Lionesses would secure top spot in the group.

This tie for England was set to be their toughest in the World Cup campaign so far against the 2015 World Cup runners-up in Japan following their 2-1 and 1-0 wins over Scotland and Argentina in their previous two group stage games.

It was England who started brighter, having most of the possession within the opening stages. However, a Kumi Yokohama free-kick strike from 35 yards out was denied by Lionesses keeper Karen Bardsley after 10 minutes.

A crucial 14th minute strike from Ellen White appeared to be the big hitter of the game after Georgia Stanway turned before holding off Hina Sugita and subsequently played a pass through to Ellen White. White then stayed calm whilst hoping for the keeper to approach her and then smacking it into the far corner of the net.

About 20 minutes later, Keira Walsh decided to pass it long over to Rachel Daly who had just run in between the Japanese centre-backs before winning the ball and being only denied by the grasping tips of Ayaka Yamashita. The resulting corner was then smashed wide by Toni Duggan.

Half time came along with England leading 1-0.

However for a large majority of the game, Japan were pressuring England with some sublime balls into the final third on more than a few occasiions. England keeper Karen Bardsley was there to rescue the day time and time again with some superb one on one saves.

Just as the game was going into the 84th minute, Ellen White then managed to score an absolute belter against Japan to make it 2-0 to England just as she was passed the ball into the penalty area. Substitute Nikita Parris went inside before allowing the ball into Jill Scott who subsequently played the ball into Karen Carney who threaded the ball through to White. The ball going into the centre of the Japanese net and past the Japanese keeper Ayaka Yamashita.

The Japanese looked astounded after the English celebrated but the Lionesses knew this had all but secured those crucial three points.

As 90 minutes approached, the Japanese weren’t looking at giving up anytime sooner as Yuika Sugasawa went through in the centre only having Karen Bardsley to beat with the English keeper managing yet another save to maintain her clean sheet before Steph Houghton managed to sort out the rebound quickly to defy the Japanese a thoroughly deserved goal..

The full time whistle blew after 94 minutes with the Lionesses of England knowing they had topped Group D with 9 points for their first ever time following a tough yet young Japanese side who pressured and attacked consistently throughout the 90 minutes.

The Lionesses will be taking on a 3rd placed team on Sunday in Valenciennes whilst Japan will take on the winner of Group E which will either be Canada or the Netherlands next Monday in Rennes.

England goalscorer Ellen White said this to BBC post-match:

“We expected Japan to come at us hard in that second half so we were ready for it. We did well and we stuck together and we got the win. It’s three wins from three so we take a lot of momentum into the knockouts now.

I love scoring against Japan and playing for my country – it’s a dream to be here. We’ll keep growing as the tournament goes on. Our objective was to win the group and we’ve done that. Now, we need to recover and get ready for the next game.”

Japan XI: Yamashita, Shimizu, Kumagai, Ichise, Sameshima, Kobayashi (Miuraat 62′), Nakajima, Sugita, Endo (Takaradaat 85′), Yokohama (Sugasawaat 61′), Iwabuchi

England XI: Barnsley, Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes, Walsh (Mooreat 72′), Daly, Scott, Stanway (Carney 74′), Duggan (Parrisat 83′), White

Referee:Claudia Umpiérrez


About Author

Photographer who's gone everywhere from covering non-league football to covering England internationals. Occasionally write but mostly at football matches with a camera and mono-pod.

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