Phil Neville’s heavily rotated Lionesses finished top of Group D after Ellen White’s brace helped England comfortably dispatch Japan at the Allianz Riviera and progress to the knockouts of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The outcome of the encounter would’ve been a lot different had Japan taken their chances through the course of the game.
However, a mixture of poor finishing by the Japanese and outstanding goalkeeping by England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley meant the Lionesses went through to the last 16 of the 2019 Women’s World Cup with a 100% win record.
Kumi Yokoyama’s 35-yard free-kick was brilliantly saved by Bardsley who exhibited impeccable anticipation and got both hands on the venomous effort. Japan gave away the ball in midfield to England and Georgia Stanway, who was making her first World Cup start, slipped White through before the striker calmly lobbed the ball past Japanese goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita.
Stanway then let fly herself after receiving the ball from a corner at the edge of the box but Yamashita got a solid left hand to her strike. Lucy Bronze whipped in an inviting cross from the right flank on the hour mark but Tony Duggan couldn’t get much power behind her shot, and Yamashita made a good save to thwart the Barcelona star’s attempt.
White then notched up her second strike of the night after making a well-timed run to meet Karen Carney’s clever through ball and finished brilliantly to seal the win for her team. Japan almost got a consolation goal late in the game after an incredibly orchestrated move left Yuika Sugasawa one-on-one with Bardsley.
The Japanese number nine’s attempt struck Bardsley’s foot before the ball was finally cleared by captain Steph Houghton.
England are set to face one of the best third-placed team in the last 16 at Valenciennes on Sunday and are placed in the same half of the draw with France and the USA.
Scotland suffer heartbreaking exit
Scotland blew a three-goal lead against Argentina and endured an embarrassing and calamitous exit from the 2019 Women’s World Cup at the Parc des Princess.
VAR again was at the center of a storm yesterday, as Lee Alexander’s save of Florencia Bonsegundo’s penalty was deemed illegal on account of a misplaced toe which gifted the Argentines another opportunity to score.
Erin Cuthbert’s slaloming run in the 19th minute left Argentina’s defenders chasing shadows but her attempt was saved by Vanina Correa.
However, Kim Little had occupied a brilliant position and stabbed home Cuthbert’s volley from the rebound to give Scotland the lead. Caroline Weir’s delightful left-footed cross was headed in by Jennifer Beattie who had placed herself exactly between two of Argentina’s defenders.
Scotland then got their third goal 20 minutes from time, after Leanne Crichton’s header from a corner hit the post and fell to Erin Cuthbert who calmly slotted the ball past Correa. The Scots left themselves too open in the closing stages of the game and this gave Argentina the license to go gung-ho and spark a resurgence of sorts.
Dalila Ippolito’s good pass into Milagros Menendez began the comeback and Scotland goalkeeper Alexander’s own goal in the 79th minute left the fate of the game hanging by a thread. Substitute Sophie Howard’s poorly timed tackle on Aldana Cometti in the box resulted in a penalty being awarded to Argentina after VAR’s intervention.
Alexander saved Bonsegundo’s first attempt but her save was deemed illegal after it was adjudged that her foot had come off the line. Argentina got a second attempt and Bonsegundo didn’t miss this time.
The heartbreaking defeat ended Scotland’s World Cup dream, with coach Shelley Kerr blaming poor refereeing decisions for her team’s ouster from the showpiece event.