Ellen White Leads England Past Japan, Lionesses Win Group D at Women's World Cup

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2019

England head coach Philip Neville, right, applaudes as England's scorer Ellen White, left, and her teammates celebrate the opening goal during the Women's World Cup Group D soccer match between Japan and England at the Stade de Nice in Nice, France, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Claude Paris/Associated Press

England beat Japan 2-0 at the 2019 Women's World Cup on Wednesday to secure the top spot in Group D and set up a date with one of the third-placed finishers in the Round of 16. Ellen White scored both of the goals.

The two top sides in Group D served up an entertaining affair, with the opening goal coming after 14 minutes. The better chances fell to the Lionesses, who could have added a second goal before half-time but finally did with six minutes left to play.

England were already assured a spot in the next round after winning their first two matches, while Japan had four points after a win over Scotland and draw with Argentina.

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 The Scots drew with Argentina on Wednesday, assuring Japan's spot in the next round.

The match got off to a fast start, with England controlling possession and Japan putting together a few chances. Kumi Yokoyama was the main source of danger, testing goalkeeper Karen Bardsley with a great strike and even better free-kick.

Georgia Stanway fired England's first shot on goal wide before White opened the scoring after 14 minutes. Stanway played her in, and the forward only had goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita to beat.

She has a habit of scoring against Japan on the big stage:

Yamashita had a busy opening half, and both Stanway and Jill Scott put her to work with good strikes. At the other end of the pitch, Bardsley spilled a cross from Yokoyama, but she was able to gather the ball again before any Japanese player could fire it home.

Rachel Daly went close to scoring a second goal for the Lionesses after using her speed and strength to chase down a ball over the top, but Yamashita's reaction was just as impressive.

The half ended with Japan on top but England doing a fine job of limiting shots on goal. That pattern reversed early in the second half, however, with the Lionesses pushing for a second goal.

Claude Paris/Associated Press

Yamashita continued her heroics with a great save on Toni Duggan, who blasted a volley on target after a cross from Lucy Bronze. White only just missed out on the rebound.

While the action was fierce after the half-time break, chances were relatively few. Stephanie Houghton's great tackle denied Yuika Sugasawa a scoring opportunity, but overall, the English defence didn't have a lot of work to do.

Substitute Sugasawa did provide a spark, and she nearly flicked a cross into the net, but instead, the goal fell at the other end of the pitch. Karen Carney slipped a fine pass into White, who slid home the ball to secure the win.

   

What's Next?

The group stage concludes on Friday, after which the bracket for the Round of 16 will be set.

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