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Women's Football World Cup News
England 2 (White 15, Yankey 66) Japan 0
att: 20,777; at Bochum
England produced an excellent team performance to run out comfortable winners over Japan and pick up the result they needed to end up as winners of Group B.
Hope Powell made four changes to her starting line up, electing to rest Faye White and Fara Williams with Sophie Bradley and Anita Asante coming in, whilst Karen Carney and Jess Clarke replaced Eniola Aluko and Rachel Yankey, with Casey Stoney wearing the captain's armband.
Kozue Ando tested Karen Bardsley with an early strike from the edge of the area but the opening stages were largely very cagey until England went in front of the quarter hour mark through a brilliant goal.
The goal owed much to the class of Carney who planted a great pass over the Japanese defence but Ellen White, who had got between to two central defenders, still had a lot to do and gave Ayumi Kaihori no chance with a superbly executed lob which dipped just under the bar.
Japan were knocked out of their stride by the goal and they struggled to get their renowned passing game going. England had strung five players across the midfield area, with Kelly Smith in a more withdrawn role, to deny Japan space in that part of the pitch and Asante was fully justifying her selection by winning a number of challenges.
However England were almost caught out by a quickly taken free kick which released and Homare Sawa crossed for Ando whose header was blocked and scrambled away by Bradley. England went straight back on the attack and Jill Scott did well to dispossess Mizuho Sakaguchi but her final ball was disappointing and Kaihori collected.
England then went close to a second goal, Clarke's cross being met by White who hooked an overhead shot on the volley which was looping in but Kaihori did well to palm the ball onto the bar and over. Back came Japan and after a period of pressure, Aya Miyama drilled in a dangerous cross which Bardsley palmed away at full stretch to Yukari Kinga who blazed wildly over from twelve yards.
England made a half time change with Yankey coming on for Clarke but Japan should have been on level terms three minutes after the restart. Miyama curled an inswinging free kick over the defence and an unmarked Yuki Nagasato stole in but prodded the ball wide from six yards.
Japan were having their best spell of the game at this stage but England held firm at the back with Bradley greatly impressing alongside Stoney. The midfield were working very hard in front of them and lone striker White was a constant worry to the Japanese defence with a selfless, hard running performance up front.
England needed a second goal to settle any nerves and it came midway through the second half. Carney was again the instigator with a driving run into the Japanese half and the ball was laid back to Rachel Unitt, whose cross picked out Yankey. After a good first touch, Yankey neatly clipped the ball over Kaihori to put her side two ahead.
England shut up shop at this point and a rattled Japan continually gave the ball away as they were harried and hassled in possession, led by midfield duo Asante and Jill Scott. Whenever Japan did get into a threatening position, they found Bardsley in outstanding form with one excellent catch from a Miyama and two good punches to avert dangerous situations.
Bardsley was forced into one good save, clawing over an angled shot from Nahomi Kawasumi which was heading inside the near post. Bizarrely, the referee awarded a goal kick - not the first such blunder by the unimpressive officials.
Concentration was needed during the final stages in order to prevent any late scares and England successfully closed the game out for a well earned win.
England: Karen Bardsley, Alex Scott, Rachel Unitt, Jill Scott, Sophie Bradley, Casey Stoney, Jess Clarke (sub Rachel Yankey 45mins), Anita Asante, Ellen White (sub Laura Bassett 90mins), Kelly Smith (sub Eniola Aluko 62mins), Karen Carney.
Japan: Ayumi Kaihori, Yukari Kinga, Azusa Iwashimuzu, Saki Kumagai, Aya Sameshima, Mizuho Sakaguchi (sub Mana Iwabuchi 75mins), Kozue Ando (sub Karina Maruyama 56mins), Aya Miyama, Yuki Nagasato, Homare Sawa, Shinobu Ohno (sub Nahomi Kawasumi 82mins).
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