World Cup: England top Group D after victory over Japan

Ellen White scores brace in Nice while Scotland crash out after throwing away 3-0 lead

England 2 Japan 0

England finished their Women’s World Cup Group D matches in top spot and with a 100 per cent record after Ellen White’s brace steered them to a 2-0 win against Japan in Nice.

The Lionesses, who had already qualified for the last 16 and needed to avoid defeat to win the group, went ahead just before the quarter-hour mark through White’s cool finish following good work by Georgia Stanway.

White then slotted in her second, and third of the tournament, with six minutes of normal time remaining having been teed up by substitute Karen Carney.


Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita made a number of fine saves during the contest at the Allianz Riviera, after her counterpart Karen Bardsley had done well to tip a Kumi Yokoyama free-kick onto the bar in ninth minute.

Phil Neville’s England will now face a third-placed finisher in the next round - either China (Group B), or Cameroon or New Zealand (Group E), or Chile or Thailand (Group F).

Their opponents will be determined on Thursday when Groups E and F conclude, and the match will take place on Sunday in Valenciennes.

Having stressed in the build-up that he wanted to win the match and would pick his “best team” to achieve that, Neville made eight changes to his starting XI from the 1-0 win against Argentina five days earlier.

That included bringing fit-again forward Toni Duggan into the attack, along with White and Rachel Daly, as Beth Mead, Jodie Taylor — the goalscorer against Argentina — and Nikita Parris dropped out.

Japan, World Cup winners in 2011 and semi-final victors over England en route to finishing as runners-up in 2015, threatened early on through Yokoyama as the forward sent a shot over and saw a free-kick heading for the top corner superbly touched on to the bar by Bardsley.

England then grabbed the lead in the 14th minute when Stanway turned Hina Sugita and held her off to play an excellent through-ball to White, who deftly lifted an effort past Yamashita and into the bottom corner.

With Neville’s side remaining on the front foot, Yamashita made two good saves soon after as she kept out strikes from Jill Scott and Stanway, the second being particularly impressive.

Yokoyama then had a curler dealt with by Bardsley before Daly latched on to a long ball from Keira Walsh and brought another decent save out of Yamashita.

Yamashita excelled once again in the 59th minute as she pushed away Duggan’s goalbound effort.

England then survived a number of scares as Japan stepped up their search for an equaliser, with substitute Yuika Sugasawa to the fore.

Steph Houghton executed a perfectly-timed tackle in the box in the 66th minute to take the ball away from Sugasawa, who then had a shot saved by Bardsley.

Sugasawa then steered the ball into the side-netting on the stretch, before White popped up with her second goal, beating Yamashita from just inside the box as she connected with Carney’s threaded pass.

Bardsley subsequently denied Sugasawa once again before the full-time whistle, which left second-placed Japan, who had also secured last-16 qualification prior to the match, set to face Holland or Canada in the last 16.

Scotland 3 Argentina 3

Scotland crashed out of the Women’s World Cup in heart-breaking fashion after letting slip a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Argentina.

Shelley Kerr’s side appeared on course for the win they needed in their final group game as goals from Kim Little, Jennifer Beattie and Erin Cuthbert put them 3-0 up with 21 minutes remaining at the Parc des Princes.

Qualification for the knockout stage was within Scotland’s grasp as one of the best third-placed finishers.

But Argentina hit back through goals from substitute Milagros Menendez and Florencia Bonsegundo, who then scored a retaken penalty in stoppage time after her initial spot-kick had been saved to send the Scots home in the cruellest of circumstances.

Scotland coach Kerr made three changes to her side following defeats against England and Japan.

Midfield pair Nicola Docherty and Leanne Crichton plus forward Claire Emslie stepped into the starting line-up and Scotland made a promising start.

Cuthbert dragged an early shot wide from Docherty’s dangerous cross as the Scots looked to push forward.

Kerr’s side looked vulnerable on the counter-attack though and almost went behind in the 17th minute when Mariana Larroquette’s header struck the crossbar.

But two minutes later Scotland took the lead. Cuthbert reacted well after her powerful shot was parried by Argentina goalkeeper Vanina Correa, playing the rebound across the six-yard area for Little to tap home.

Argentina still posed a threat going forward and a well-timed tackle by Rachel Corsie in the penalty area denied Sole Jaimes a shot on goal.

Crucially, Scotland gave themselves a cushion with a second goal four minutes into the second half when defender Beattie headed home Caroline Weir’s excellent cross.

Argentina were forced to chase the game and Cuthbert almost took advantage of the gaps at the back by forcing Correa into a decent save.

Cuthbert was then on hand to turn home Scotland’s third goal from another rebound in the 69th minute after Correa had pushed Crichton’s powerful header on to the crossbar.

The Scots were then dealt a double whammy as the South Americans struck twice in three minutes to put qualification back on a knife edge.

Argentina substitute Menendez took advantage of a defensive mix-up to fire under goalkeeper Lee Alexander in the 74th minute and Bonsegundo fired a shot from outside the area in off the underside of the crossbar in the 78th minute.

Scotland’s worst fears appeared to have been realised when Sophie Howard, moments after stepping off the substitutes’ bench, sent Aldana Cometti tumbling in the box with four minutes left.

Bonsegundo’s spot-kick, awarded after being referred to the video assistant referee, was saved by Lee, but in an incredible finale the VAR ordered a retake after ruling the goalkeeper had moved both feet off her goal line and the Argentinian struck the equaliser.