Manchester City’s women played a starring role as England beat Japan 2-0 at the World Cup in France. New signing Ellen White scored both goals to take her tally to three goals in two games as England finished top of the group.
Manager Phil Neville made eight changes, reinstating White to the starting line up and also gave a start to City youngster Georgia Stanway. In addition, former blue Nikita Parris dropped to the bench, while another ex-City star Toni Duggan returned to the England starting eleven, while Keira Walsh replaced Jade Moore in midfield as the Lionesses sought revenge for their semi-final defeat in Canada four years ago
Although White will take the plaudits for her brace, England’s win was down in part to City keeper Karen Bardsley, who made a brilliant save after just ten minutes, turning Kumi Yokoyama’s free kick behind for a corner. Four minutes later England were ahead, and it was a City double that unravelled the Japanese defence.
Stanway turned and held off her marker and her sent White away, who coolly finished to put England ahead. It was White’s second goal in two games after scoring against Scotland in the opening match.
Four minutes later, Jill Scott’s shot was parried by the keeper and a minute later, and it was Stanway’s turn to test the keeper, collecting a corner on the edge of the area and unleashing a swerving shot that the keeper just managed to keep out.
Ex-blue Duggan almost scored on 58 minutes, but her shot was saved by the keeper and the ball ran away from White before she could score with the follow-up. Japan were creeping back into the match and on 64 minutes, Steph Houghton produced what was probably the tackle of the match. With Yuika Sugasawa through on goal, the City defender made a perfectly timed challenge to knock the ball behind for a corner.
Jade Moore replaced Keira Walsh and Stanway came off to be replaced by Karen Carney as England looked for the second goal to finish Japan off. And it duly came in the 84th minute as White latched onto Carney’s pass to slide the ball past the keeper and make the game safe.
There was still time though for Bardsley to quash any chance of a Japan comeback as she saved from another Japan attack with her leg, and the clearance completed by the ever amazing Houghton to leave England in top spot, and will now play a third placed team in the next round.
It was a different story for City’s Scottish players, whose team squandered a 3-0 to Argentina, drawing 3-3. Caroline Weir provided the cross for Scotland’s second goal, but a VAR-awarded penalty was retaken after the keeper saved the original spot kick. The second attempt went in to send Scotland home.