An action packed day 13 of this years WWC, saw England secure top spot in group D, as they finally shown up in the tournament by thrashing China, The Netherlands were in seventh heaven against Vietnam, while Denmark also secured a place in the knockout stages and the United States just about scraped through over Portugal.
China PR vs England
After two lacklustre performances in their opening games of Group D, Lauren James was once again instrumental with three assists and two goals, as England rediscovered their killer instinct against China by thrashing them 6-1 to secure top spot in Group D, maintain their perfect start to the tournament and reach the knockout stages yet again.
The Lionesses needed just four minutes to get on the scoresheet, Arsenal’s new striker Alessia Russo tucked her fine effort into the net, after a clever knock-down from Lauren James’ pass giving Russo, her first ever World Cup goal.
Sarina Wiegman changed the system for the game due to the absence of midfield maestro Kiera Walsh and her decision paid off as England were dominant throughout and it was soon 2-0. Mille Bright brilliantly stepped up from the back, played James the ball, who then fed it into Lauren Hemp’s path, who after a sublime first touch slotted it calmly past the Chinese keeper.
The Lionesses showed no signs of slowing down before the break either, and their relentless attacking approach was soon rewarded again as Lauren James fired home, after Alex Greenwood picked her out on the edge of the box.
Early in the second half, the Chinese were awarded a lifeline as Lucy Bronze was judged to have handled the ball on the goalline which resulted in a penalty kick which Wang Shuang stepped up and converted. But England soon reasserted their dominance and restored their three goal cushion as Jess Carter’s brilliant ball into the area found her Chelsea teammate James who guided a sublime first-time volley into the far corner, giving her, her second goal of the game and third of the tournament.
Everything good that England did seemed to be coming through or from Lauren James, but even after being subbed off The Lionesses secured the victory once and for all as Chloe Kelly and Rachel Daly got on the scoresheet late on.
Overall it was a masterclass from Sarina Wiegman, The Lionesses proved they don’t need Kiera Walsh to win games, Katie Zelem, Georgia Stanway and the other midfielders who came on were superb throughout.
Vietnam vs Netherlands
A record breaking 7-0 victory for the Netherlands was a perfect way to finish the group game fixtures as they topped group E and secured a place in the knockouts for the third consecutive WWC tournament.
Given the fact Vietnam were already eliminated from the tournament and had lost their last six games, it was inevitable that the Dutch would cruise to victory. They came firing out the blocks, they scored two goals in the opening 15 minutes through Lieke Martens and Katja Snoeijs.
Andries Jonker’s side continued to cut through the Diamond Girls defence time and time again, and they soon had a third goal thanks to Esmee Brugts who curled the ball with ease into the top corner from 25 yards out. It was clear that the Netherlands were out to seal top spot from America, as they showed no signs of letting up, Jill Roord and Danielle Van De Donk added a further two goals to give the Oranje’s a 5-0 lead at half time.
The Vietnamese players came out for the second half trying to avoid any more goals being scored by the Dutch but it didn’t take them too long as Brugts curled home another superb effort from close range. The Oranje eventually did take their foot off the gas a little bit, maybe with the round of 16 in mind. But very late on Roord grabbed her second goal of the game just to add further gloss onto the scoreline.
The 7-0 scoreline means Netherlands finished above the USA in Group E and have avoided a tricky encounter with Sweden in the knockout stages, they will face South Africa instead.
Haiti vs Denmark
Needing only to better China’s result against England to progress to the knockout stages for the first time since 1995, Denmark were dominant in Perth and went onto win 2-0 thanks to a Pernille Harder penalty in the first half which set them on their way and then a goal to seal the deal in the 100th minute from Sanne Troelsgaard.
Denmark now face a tough test in the round of 16 as they have to travel to Sydney to face the hosts Australia (who will have a fully fit Sam Kerr) on Monday.
Portugal vs USA
The current defending World Cup champions put in another lacklustre display against Portugal and if it wasn’t for the Portuguese hitting the post in the final moments of the game they could have been going home.
Across the entire game the United States only managed four shots on target, Portugal were a lot more dominant especially in the midfield areas, if only they could have scored that one goal they needed to take them through in their tournament debut.
But the Americans scraped through and had to settle for second in the group, they now have a tough test against Sweden in the round of 16. Will they turn up? Or will the defending champions be heading home sooner than we thought?