Group D: JAPAN 0-2 ENGLAND
England ensured they topped Group D with a 2-0 victory over Japan. Ellen White scored both goals for the Lionesses; one in each half. Phil Neville’s side were unconvincing for much of the game but clinical in front of goal drawing several smart stops from Ayaka Yamashita.
Both teams swapped distance strikes early on. Kumi Yokoyama’s 30-yard free-kick was tipped into the bar by Karen Bardsley. Georgia Stanway, making her first start for England, then gave Yamshita something to think about with a swerving effort that seemed to have the keeper wrong footed.
Stanway was the architect of England’s opener, winning the ball in midfield, driving forward and playing in White, who clipped the ball across the keeper into the far corner.
Japan dominated the second half with England frequently showing lapses in concentration and poor decision making which made them sloppy in possession. But Nadeshiko failed to capitalise with Mana Iwabuchi, Emi Nakajima and substitute Yuika Sugasawa all spurning chances. England captain, Steph Houghton, was forced into one outstanding last-ditch tackle following a Millie Bright error, and Bardsley made a fine stop with her legs to deny Sugasawa.
Late in the game, Neville brought on substitutes Karen Carney and Nikita Parris. Together with Jill Scott, they combined to play White in again and the newly signed Manchester City striker made no mistake, firing left footed inside Yamashita’s near post.
England now go to Valenciennes to play an as-yet undefined third place finisher. Japan head to Rennes to play the winner of tomorrow’s Group E clash between Canada and the Netherlands.
“We needed this game I think to have a different test and we got that. Some of our play in the first half was fantastic, but in the second half a few of the players that maybe hadn’t played as much got a little bit tired. But it’s job done and we’re looking forward to the last sixteen.”Phil Neville, England Head Coach
Group D: SCOTLAND 3-3 ARGENTINA
Scotland grabbed despair from the precipice of joy in Paris; squandering a three-goal lead in the last twenty minutes and crashing out of the tournament. VAR once again played a key role in the demise of Shelley Kerr’s side, when keeper Lee Alexander was adjudged to have stepped off her line saving Florencia Bonsegundo’s penalty as the match ticked into stoppage time. The Argentinian forward made no mistake the second time around.
It had all been going so well for the Scots. They had a bit of early luck, surviving Mariana Larroquette’s header which hit the bar, and were soon on the front foot. Erin Cuthbert burst through the Argentinian backline and, although Vanina Correa parried her drive, the striker got her head up and found Kim Little who made no mistake from six yards.
Four minutes into the second period Scotland’s aerial threat started to tell. Jen Beattie powered in Caroline Weir’s cross from the right to double their advantage. They were in dreamland by the 69th minute when Cuthbert made it three, following in Leanne Crichton’s header which Correa had pushed onto the post.
However, defensive concentration had proved to be a problem for the Scottish backline in their previous two group games and Argentina had a lifeline just five minutes later. Substitutes Dalila Ippolito and Milagros Menendez combined with the latter slotting past Alexander.
Bonsegundo then showed great quality on the edge of the box, twisting and turning her markers before letting fly. Alexander tipped the ball onto the bar, but it ricocheted off her and into the net. There were still ten minutes to play and now Albicelestes’ tails were up.
Scotland Head Coach Shelley Kerr tried to stem the tide with defensive substitutions in the closing stages but even this decision came back to bite her. Just a few minutes after coming on Sophie Howard mistimed her tackle on Aldana Cometti and, although referee Hyang-Ok Ri waved Argentinian appeals away, VAR advised she have another look.
Decision overturned, Bonsegundo’s spot kick was parried and the rebound blocked but moments later VAR was ordering a retake with Alexander’s boots just millimetres off the goal line. Bonsegundo kept her cool and fired her second effort straight down the middle to break Scottish hearts.
This result gives Argentina a slim chance of qualifying as a best third place team, but if there is a victory for any one of Chile, Thailand, New Zealand or Cameroon on Thursday, Carlos Borrello’s courageous squad will be heading home.