A sensational performance from Lauren James led the English team to a commanding 6-1 victory against China in the final Women’s World Cup group game. James was essential in England’s triumph, scoring two goals and assisting on three more, putting England in the last-16 against Nigeria.
Stellar Performance Despite Line-up Concerns
As England dealt with the loss of injured Keira Walsh, all eyes were on coach Sarina Wiegman’s starting lineup. Wiegman’s decision to switch from the previous 4-3-3 formation to a 3-5-2 formation did not disappoint, resulting in one of England’s most dominant performances of the tournament.
Lauren James’ outstanding performance highlighted the team’s display of free-flowing, offensive football. She set up goals for Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp before scoring herself, giving the Lionesses a 3-0 lead at halftime. Despite James’ spectacular second strike being called out for offside, England maintained their lead.
China Fights Back, but England Holds Strong
China gained some ground in the second half as a penalty was granted following a VAR-ruled handball by England’s Lucy Bronze. Shanshan Wang converted the penalty, giving China the game’s first and only goal. However, China’s spark was short-lived.
England regained a three-goal advantage thanks to another goal from James. Later, a defensive mistake by China’s goalkeeper Yu Zhu allowed Chloe Kelly to score, giving England an even bigger lead. Even after James was substituted, Rachel Daly’s late goal sealed England’s dominant victory, highlighting the strength of England’s attack.
Record-Breaking England Marches On
This victory equals England’s biggest-ever win at a Women’s World Cup, matching their 6-1 thrashing of Argentina in 2007. Notably, the Lionesses also set a World Cup record by scoring in 16 consecutive games in the tournament.
As the Lionesses marched into the last 16 to face Nigeria, Lauren James praised her team’s performance, saying, “Another day that dreams are made of, everyone’s buzzing and we’re looking forward to going to the next round.”
China’s adventure, on the other hand, has ended on a less favourable note, with the country failing to advance past the group stage for the first time in Women’s World Cup history.
Looking Ahead to the Knockout Stage
The last-16 matchup against Nigeria will test England’s form as they strive to continue their stellar performance. If they can replicate the commanding display shown against China, the Lionesses could well be one of the favourites heading into the quarterfinals.