England down New Zealand
Augsberg - England are on the verge of the quarterfinals at the women's World Cup despite suffering a scare on Friday as they had to come from behind to secure a 2-1 win over New Zealand in Group B.
A first-half goal by Football Ferns' forward Sarah Gregorius had put the New Zealanders into a shock lead and England needed more than an hour before equalising thanks to a header from Everton midfielder Jill Scott.
Super sub Jessica Clarke then scored the winner on 81 minutes after Scott drilled a ball into the box and the 22-year-old saved the Three Lions' blushes by sweeping her shot into the roof of the net.
With four points, England are almost assured of a place in the quarterfinals, but they still face unbeaten group leaders Japan in Augsburg next Tuesday.
The Japanese earlier secured their passage into the last eight with a 4-0 win over Mexico.
New Zealand are now going home after their second defeat of the competition and are playing for pride against the Mexicans in Sinsheim on Tuesday, who still have a mathematical chance of going through, but need a goal-packed win.
England made a bright start in front of a crowd of 19,110, but there were a few nervous looks on their bench when experienced striker Kelly Smith injured her ankle in an early clash with New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon.
Despite limping off with barely eight minutes played, she recovered enough to re-take her place on the pitch, but her team were floored by the opening goal.
New Zealand forward Amber Hearn beat England captain Faye White on the far left and played the ball into the six-yard box as Gregorius squeezed between two defenders and stabbed the ball past Karen Bardsley after 18 minutes.
The 23-year-old could have made it 2-0 towards the end of the first half when she managed to get behind two England defenders with the ball at her feet, but failed to make her shot count.
England started the second half camped in the New Zealanders half and the sustained pressure paid off when defender Alex Scott curled in a cross which Scott headed over the out-stretched arms of Kiwi goalkeeper Bindon.
The 63rd minute goal spurned the Football Ferns into action and coach John Herdman threw on forward Rosie White, one of New Zealand's rising stars, who squandered a great chance in front of goal with her first touch of the game.
But the Football Ferns' brief dreams of a historic win were dashed after Lincoln's Jessica Clarke came off the bench to break Kiwi hearts with the winner and there were plenty of tears from the losers at the final whistle.
Japan 4 Mexico 0
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