England 2, Japan 0

England turned the threat of first-round elimination into Group

B victory with a 2-0 win over Japan to reach the Women’s World Cup

quarterfinals on Tuesday.

After a lackluster first two games, England was spectacular in

its decisive match. After 15 minutes, Sophie Bradley sent a deep

ball from her half of the field toward Ellen White, who spotted

goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori off her line. She let the ball bounce once

and lobbed it over Kaihori with precision from 21 yards.

In the 66th, Rachel Unitt shrugged off several defenders to set

up substitute forward Rachel Yankey for a delicate chip and the

insurance goal.

Japan was supposed to be all about skill, while England relied

on power. But with an inspired performance and great goals, the

Englishwomen disproved it.

With the tournament on the line, England was aggressive and

played with passion throughout, while Japan rarely thrilled the

crowd of 20,777.

The victory gave England seven points, one more than Japan.

Mexico and New Zealand were eliminated.

After the game, the players united behind a Japanese banner

saying, ”To our friends around the world – Thank you for your

support,” recognizing the global aid in the wake of the deadly

Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March.

England had everything to play for. A big loss could have

eliminated it from the tournament. Instead, the win over Japan

allowed it avoid the top team of Group A in the quarterfinals.

The early goal settled nerves English nerves, and from then on

England always looked more like group winners than first-round

losers.

Japan started with the same lineup that set it up as a top seed,

while England made changes in four places to rev up its efforts.

Yet Japan found it tough to get its rhythm going.

After her first goal, White almost scored one of equal

brilliance in the 38th when she had to go back for a cross, yet

swung in an overhead volley that Kaihori barely tipped onto the

crossbar and over the net.

Japan sought a way back into the game in the second half and

Yuki Nagasato slid in behind defenders on a 49th-minute free kick,

but her deflection went just wide.