England beats Japan 2-0 in Women’s World Cup

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 game. After 15 minutes, Sophie Bradley sent a deep

ball from her half toward Ellen White, who forward spotted

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

and lobbed it over Kaihori with exquisite precision from 21 meters

out.

In the 66th, England came up with a second good goal, when

Rachel Unitt shrugged off several Japanese defenders to set up

substitute forward Rachel Yankey for a delicate chip and the

insurance goal.

”They were both tremendous finishes,” said midfield standout

Jill Scott.

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

power and push, but with an inspired performance and great goals,

the Europeans 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.

”We managed to startle them somewhat,” said England coach Hope

Powell, who saw her team’s ”scruffy” attitude pay off with

exhilarating goals.

”We tried to deny them space and stifle their play,” she

added, lauding the team for executing her plan to perfection.

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 support in the wake of the deadly

Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March.

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

it from the tournament while a win over Japan would give it the

right to avoid the top team of Group A in the quarters.

The early goal settled 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

tournament favorite, while England made changes in four places to

rev up its campaign.

In balmy late afternoon temperatures of 22 degrees C (72 F),

Japan found it tough to get its rhythm going.

After her first goal, While almost scored one of equal

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

swung in an overhead volley which Kaihori barely tipped onto the

bar and over.

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.

Lineups:

England: Karen Bardsley, Rachel Unitt, Sophie Bradley , Casey

Stoney, Alex Scott, Jill Scott, Jesse Clarke (Rachel Yankey, 46),

Anita Asante, Kelly Smith (Eniola Aluko, 62), Ellen White (Laura

Bassett, 90), Karen Carney.

Japan: Ayumi Kaihori, Aya Sameshima, Saki Kumagai, Azusa

Iwashimizu, Yukari Kinga, Aya Miyama, Homare Sawa, Mizuho Sakaguchi

(Mana Iwabuchi, 75), Shinobu Ohno (Nahomi Kawasumi, 82), Yuki

Nagasato, Kozue Ando (Karina Maruyama, 56).