Tuesday, July 05, 2011

All 'White' On The Night - England's Lionesses March On!

England booked their ticket into the quarter-finals of the 2011 Women's World Cup tonight, with an impressive 2-0 victory over Japan, in the Impuls Arena, Augsburg to claim top spot in Group B.

England now face a quarter-final in Leverkusen on Saturday, against France who lost tonight 4-2 to hosts Germany.

England manager Hope Powell made four changes to the line-up that started against New Zealand in their last match.

Captain Faye White and midfielder Fara Williams were both rested while Jess Clarke and Karen Carney, both substitutes against New Zealand, were preferred to Yankey and Eni Aluko by the England manager.

England were forced to hold off some intense early pressure from the Japanese, before taking the lead in the 15th minute in quite spectacular fashion.

Karen Carney delivering a perfectly weighted ball from inside her own half for Ellen White to chase.
Running in between the Japanese centre-backs, the Arsenal striker did not break stride before lifting the ball sublimely over goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori from the edge of the penalty box, to score arguably the goal of the tournament so far.

England striker Ellen White celebrates after scoring a 'wonder goal' in the Women's World Cup tonight

Not long after her goal striker White who was a constant threat, saw another stunning effort, an acrobatic hooked volley fabulously tipped onto the crossbar by Kaihori.

Japan's potent attack, which put four goals past Mexico in its last game, was unusually quiet and their best chance came when Kozue Ando had her shot blocked and cleared near the goal line by England defender Sophie Bradley midway through the opening half.

The second goal eventually came after 66 minutes from half-time substitute Rachel Yankey. England's most experienced player took down Rachel Unitt’s cross before cleverly chipping the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper from a tight angle.

The Japanese, who were already guaranteed a last-eight berth, impressed with their neat approach play and movement, but they could not find an end product to match.

England played the rest of the game out in relative calm, with few scares, while New Zealand produced a terrific fightback in Sinsheim, scoring twice in stoppage time to earn a 2-2 draw with Mexico in tonight's other Group B fixture.

England, despite a disappointing opening draw against Mexico followed by a narrow 2-1 win against New Zealand, will go into Saturday's game against France full of confidence after this solid performance against a talented Japanese side.
England look to have a strong squad with strength and depth in all areas, and most importantly they seem to be peaking at the right time.

In Tuesday's other match in Group A, Nigeria beat Canada 1-0 in Dresden, a third successive defeat for the Canadians.

"We were very, very good today. You've got to respect Japan and the way they play, but we had a gameplan and we implemented it. The ambition was to get out of the group and top the group and we've done that. We're in the quarters and we'll have to do our best" - England manager Hope Powell's post match comments.

"It's almost indescribable, scoring in a World Cup, it's the pinnacle of your career. You've got to beat the best to be the best, so bring them on in the quarter-finals" - England scorer Ellen White's post match comments.

Match Highlights - England v Japan, Women's World Cup 5th July 2011

England Ladies:(4-4-1-1): Bardsley; A Scott, Bradley, Stoney, Unitt; Carney, J Scott, Asante, Clarke (Yankey 46); K Smith (Aluko 62); E White (Bassett 90).

Subs not used: F White, F Williams, Brown (g), Houghton, Susi, Rafferty, Chamberlain (g).

E White (15), Hankey (66)

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