England Women 1 – 0 Denmark Women

Lauren James’ stunning goal on her first World Cup start saw England beat Denmark 1-0 to put them on the brink of the last 16, although it appears likely that they will be missing Keira Walsh after the midfielder was stretchered off with a knee injury.

Chelsea’s James was a welcome sight in the starting XI after a lacklustre showing against Haiti in England’s tournament opener. She thundered home from 20 yards (6) and immediately announced herself on the world stage.

But England’s joy did not last long as talismanic midfielder Walsh went down just after the half hour, clutching her knee. She immediately signalled to the bench, and was taken off on a stretcher a few minutes later.

Giving an update after the game, England manager Sarina Wiegman told BBC Sport: “I know nothing about Keira’s injury. It looked serious, if you get stretchered off it looks serious, but I don’t know. She’ll probably go for a scan but I’ve not heard anything.

“I think they did a great job to pick it up [after the injury] but of course it’s not nice to see a player on the pitch where it’s clear she has to be stretchered off.

“In the second half, we really had to fight for the win and that’s what we did.”

Walsh instantly signalled to the bench that she could not continue upon sustaining the injury late in the first half
Walsh instantly signalled to the bench that she could not continue upon sustaining the injury late in the first half

Even before Walsh’s injury, the Lionesses were being punished by Denmark for their sloppy errors, and almost conceded a late equaliser.

Denmark had scored late on to beat China in their opening game, and almost netted at a similar time in Sydney. However, Amalie Vangsgaard’s header hit the post and went wide, with Mary Earps needed again to see England to victory.

The Lionesses are now top of Group D with six points – although two unconvincing performances – with Denmark remaining second. England need Haiti to beat China in their group game at 12pm (UK time) or a draw to seal their spot in the last 16.

How England toiled to another World Cup win

Lauren James scored her first major tournament goal on her full World Cup debut
Lauren James scored her first major tournament goal on her full World Cup debut

It took just six minutes for James to show why so many were clamouring for her to start. She picked up the ball on the left, cutting across the top of the area before unleashing a stunning strike from 20 yards that rifled into the far corner.

England continued to see chances fall their way. Chloe Kelly attempted a spectacular overhead kick, but it went wide. James then had two efforts in quick succession, but both attempts went straight at Denmark goalkeeper Lene Christensen.

Team news headlines

  • England made two changes with Lauren James and Rachel Daly coming in for Lauren Hemp and Jess Carter.
  • Denmark made three changes from their opening win against China, with three of the starting XI playing for Everton in the WSL.

Denmark should have equalised as sloppiness from England handed them a series of chances. Rikke Madsen lashed an effort across the face of goal before Janni Thomsen lifted an effort over the bar. Pernille Harder also sent a shot straight into Earps’ arms.

England’s game got significantly harder as Walsh was stretchered off after she caught her foot in the turf, jarring her knee and instantly signalling to the bench to be substituted. After a spell with the England medical staff, she was carried off the pitch with Laura Coombs on in her place.

The first half was more subdued afterwards as England saw the game out until half time, but started strongly after the break. However, the cutting edge was lacking once again as promising attacks broke down before any balls could worry the Danish defence.

Denmark could have levelled too after more lax play from the Lionesses but Kathrine Kuhl fired a low shot at Earps. Lucy Bronze then smashed a header over the crossbar from a succession of England corners, before a quiet Alessia Russo hammered an effort into the side of the net.

England player ratings

England: Earps (8), Bronze (6), Bright (6), Greenwood (7), Daly (6), Stanway (7), Walsh (7), James (8), Toone (6), Kelly (7), Russo (6).

Subs used: Coombs (7), England (7), Hemp (7).

Earps continued to keep England ahead, making another fine save in the 73rd minute when Katrine Veje attempted a Katie McCabe-esque direct corner, but the goalkeeper palmed the effort away. Denmark hit the post late on as Vangsgaard nipped in between the defender to head the ball goalwards, but could only find the upright.

England clung on until the final whistle to all-but secure their place in the knockout rounds, although questions still remain around their overall performances.

James: World Cup goal a dream come true

England goalscorer Lauren James on BBC Sport:

“It was a dream come true, one I’ve been thinking about, but most importantly we got the win on the day.

“I had a thought [it was going in] but the moment it hit the net, it was a relief.

“I’m calm on and off the pitch and I try to bring that to my game – it helped.”

What’s next?

England’s Group D campaign concludes on August 1 against China in Adelaide, kick-off 12pm, while Denmark meet Haiti at the same time in Perth.

What is the schedule?

The group stage has begun and runs over a two-week period finishing on August 3. Group winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16, which takes place from August 5 to August 8.

The quarter-finals, which will be held in Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney, are scheduled for August 11 and 12.

The first semi-final will then be played on August 15 in Auckland, with the other semi-final taking place on August 16 at the Accor Stadium in Sydney, which will then host the final on August 20.

A third-place play-off will be played the day before the final on August 19 in Brisbane.

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