JAPAN 0-2 ENGLAND
Lionesses star Ellen White grabbed a clinical brace which ensured that England defeated Japan 2-0 to top the group this evening reports EMMA HARTLEY (of the Uni of Derby).
Phil Neville’s side had created a host of chances in the first half, with Rachel Daly particularly impressive on the right flank, while goalkeeper Karen Bardsley also contributed with a handful of superb saves in a commanding performance, as Japan piled on the pressure for stretches of the second period.
White made the all-important breakthrough on 14 minutes, scoring her first from an assist by Manchester City’s young starlet Georgia Stanway, making her first World Cup start. Stanway displayed great physicality and stamina as she shouldered her way through to play in White, who cutely directed the ball with her left foot, past the on-rushing keeper into an open net, to give the Lionesses a deserved early lead.
The England striker and Stanway’s new team-mate at City, was not quite finished there. With 84 minutes on the clock, substitute Karen Carney’s smart through ball saw the 30-year-old snatch the opportunity with open hands once again. White blasted the ball into the back of the net scoring her second goal of the game with great force and confidence.
Ellen White has had two starts in this competition and has three goals, she said after the game: “I am delighted to have got two starts. For me I am delighted to contribute to this team in any way I can on and off the pitch and contributing with two goals is a dream really. I am surrounded by very talented players on the pitch and it’s a dream. For us it was about winning the group and that’s what we’ve done and now we look forward to the round of 16.”
White on the impressive Georgia Stanway: “Georgia is an unbelievable talent. We see it on the training pitch day in and day out. It was a lovely assist and I am really proud of her for performing the way that she did on the biggest stage. For me I am delighted for her to get the assist and hopefully I can get more assists from her going forwards in this World Cup and for Manchester City as well. For me I am really proud of her and for the way that she performed and the way that she handled herself on this world stage. Hopefully that can continue in this World Cup.’”
Coach Phill Neville added to the plaudits for Stanway: ‘’She’s incredible Georgia, she’s so young. I brought her on against America in the She Believes Cup with 10 minutes to go, 2-2, pressure game, and she played as if she was still playing in Cumbria playing in the park and that’s what we said to her today. When we named the team, I think she was a bit surprised. What we said to her today was just pretend you’re playing with your friends in the park because that’s when she’s at her best. I’ve got to say during the first half, she was the one who looked like she was really enjoying it. She’s going to be one of those players, if she keeps her feet on the ground, keeps progressing and working hard, she’s going to be one of the best players in world football. She’s got that potential; she just needs to keep working hard and her feet on the ground.’’
Tonight’s win was England’s third win in the competition – the first England side to win all three group games in a World Cup since the men in 1982 – which means the Lionesses have successfully topped Group D and will watch Thursday’s game with interest, to discover their next opponents will be on Sunday, in Valenciennes.
ENGLAND: Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze, Keira Walsh, Steph Houghton ©, Millie Bright, Jill Scott, Toni Duggan, Demi Stokes, Rachel Daly, Ellen White, Georgia Stanway.
Substitutes for England (Alex Greenwood, Nikita Parris, Jodie Taylor, Fran Kirby, Carly Telford, Leah Williamson, Abbie Mcmanus, Jade Moore, Karen Carney, Mary Earps, Beth Mead, Lucy Stainforth).
JAPAN: Ayaka Yamashita, Aya Sameshima, Saki Kumagai ©, Nana Ichise, Hina Sugita, Emi Nakajima, Mana Iwabuchi, Rikako Kobayashi, Jun Endo, Kumi Yokoyama, Risa Shimizu.
Substitutes for Japan- Sakiko Ikeda, Rumi Utsugi, Yuika Sugasawa, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Moeka Minami, Saori Takarada, Yui Hasegawa, Yuka Momiki, Asato Miyagawa, Narumi Miura, Chika Hirao, Shiori Miyake.