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England 2 (White 14,84)
Ellen White scored both goals as England concluded their group matches with a 100% record following victory in Nice.
The two-goal margin was admittedly a flattering one with White the difference between the two sides, her finishing was clinical whilst Japan missed a number of opportunities after dominating most of the second half.
Phil Neville made eight changes to the starting line up but this did not show in the early stages as the team settled down quickly into their now familiar passing game.
For all the early England possession though, it was Japan who nearly opened the scoring in spectacular fashion on nine minutes. Awarded a free kick 30 yards from goal, Kumi Yokoyama drilled a shot which looked destined for the top corner but Karen Bardsley pulled off a brilliant save, tipping the ball onto the bar.
That save looked even more important five minutes later as Georgia Stanway slid a pass into the path of Ellen White who lifted the ball over the oncoming Ayaka Yamashita to give England the lead.
England sought a second and pounded their opponents for the next ten minutes. Jill Scott drove a shot which was saved by Yamashita, who then did even better to turn away a powerful strike by Stanway from the resulting corner.
Japan managed to ride out the storm and began to assert their authority a lot more on the game, but it could well have been two for England as a lobbed pass by Keira Walsh over the Japanese defence was chased down by Rachel Daly but she shot straight at Yamashita who palmed it over the bar.
After the break, Japan pushed their players further forward to try and stop England passing the ball out from the back, putting pressure on Walsh in particular, and this proved successful as the back four produced a number of wayward passes which gave away possession.
England did put together a good move though, which almost resulted in a second goal, resulting in Lucy Bronze sending in a far post cross for Toni Duggan but her volley lacked power and Yamashita was able to get down and palm the ball away.
It needed a superbly timed tackle by Steph Houghton at the other end to prevent Yuika Sugasawa from getting in a shot on goal, after the ball had been given away once more.
Sugasawa poked a shot inches wide after beating Bardsley to a cross from the excellent Mana Iwabuchi but minutes later, England doubled their lead completely against the run of play. Karen Carney threaded a neat through pass into the path of White who buried her shot under the dive of Yamashita for her second goal on the night.
Still Japan continued to attack as the game came to a close, Bardsley stopped a shot from Sugasawa with her legs and Houghton did well to beat Endo to the rebound and stab the ball away. Sugasawa then missed a couple more good chances as her team were left to rue a wasteful night, but England can look forward to facing a third placed team in the last sixteen, mindful of needing to improve on the second half performance.
England: Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh (sub Jade Moore 71mins), Steph Houghton, Millie Bright, Rachel Daly, Jill Scott, Ellen White, Georgia Stanway (sub Karen Carney 73mins), Toni Duggan (sub Nikita Parris 83mins).
Japan: Ayaka Yamashita, Risa Shimizu, Saki Kumagai, Nana Ichise, Aya Sameshima, Rikako Kobayashi (sub Narumi Miura 59mins), Emi Nakajima, Hina Sugita, Jun Endo (sub Saori Takarada 85mins), Kumi Yokoyama (sub Yuika Sugasawa 59mins), Mana Iwabuchi.
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