England women reach quarters

2011-07-05 20:40
Rachel Yankey (AP)

Augsburg - England booked their ticket to the quarter-finals of the 2011 women's World Cup on Tuesday with an impressive 2-0 victory over Japan to claim first place in Group B.

Ellen White gave England the best start possible with a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes and Rachel Yankey sealed the victory after 66 minutes.

In the meantime, the strong English defence held the vaunted Japan attack - nicknamed the Barcelona of women's football - in check the entire game.

England win the group with seven points while Japan, who had already qualified for the final eight, finish with six points.

In the quarters, England will play whichever team out of France and Germany finishes second in Group A, with Japan to face the group winners.

The victory was England's first ever over Japan following a 2-2 draw at the 2007 World Cup, while Japan have yet to beat a European opponent in nine World Cup matches.

Japanese boss Norio Sasaki kept the same starting XI for the third straight game, but England head coach Hope Powell made four changes to her line-up, with the main move being captain Faye White left out for precautionary reasons in the defence, with Sophie Bradley taking her place.

Veteran Anita Asante made her 2011 World Cup debut in the midfield for Fara Williams, while Karen Carney and White took over from Eniola Aluko and Yankey in attack.

In front of 20 777 spectators, Japan were the more dangerous side early in the game, going close with a couple of long-range shots after snatching balls in the midfield.

England grabbed the lead after a quarter hour with a superb counter-attacking strike.

Carney picked up the ball deep in midfield and hit a high ball over the Japanese defence and White timed the big bounce perfectly to lob Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori from 22 yards.

It was White's sixth goal in 18 caps for England.

The English defence did a very strong job keeping Japan from pushing the tempo and controlled possession as much as possible after the goal.

Bradley proved up to task in the 29th minute, clearing a dangerous loose ball in front of the England goal.

England were nearly 2-0 up after 38 minutes as Jessica Clarke sent a cross into the box where White struck a bicycle kick that nearly looped over Kaihori again, but the keeper just got her hand on the ball and deflected it onto the crossbar and over.

Japan had their clearest chance a minute later but Yukari Kinga blasted over the framework from 13 yards despite England keeper Karen Bardsley being out of position.

Coach Powell swapped Clarke for Yankey at the break as the only substitution at half-time, and it quickly paid off.

Japan were close to equalising four minutes after the re-start but Yuki Nagasto could not quite latch onto Aya Miyama's free-kick, striking wide right.

But England doubled their advantage at the 66-minute mark as a cross from the left side into the box was passed forward by Rachel Unitt to Yankey, who flicked the ball over Kaihori for her 15th goal in 112 caps.

Read more on:    women's soccer world cup

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