As England edged closer to qualifying for the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup in Sydney on Friday, the Three Lionesses claimed another victory, this time with a 1-0 result against Group D rivals Denmark. With a superb early strike from Lauren James proving to be the difference between the two teams, England secured a victory that saw them remain undefeated in this summer’s tournament down under.
After only six minutes in the match, the 22-year-old Chelsea forward sent a curled effort past the clutches of Danish goalkeeper Lene Christensen, sending a raptured crowd of over 40,000 people into a frenzy. James stated afterwards that she was “calm all around, on and off the pitch” and was “happy to help the team win”.
England pressed for a second goal, but were unable to capitalise on chances, including Alessia Russo’s fierce shot in the 71st minute that narrowly missed the target. Bayern Munich’s Pernille Harder almost pulled a goal back for Denmark in the dying stages of the match with a header off the post.
Although the positive result means that England close in on the knockout stages, the victory was bittersweet as they had to face the blow of an injury to midfielder Keira Walsh after she had to be stretchered off the field. England have already been without the services of captain Leah Williamson, Euro 2022 Golden Boot winner Beth Mead and Fran Kirby due to serious knee injuries.
Manager Sarina Wiegman had this to say about the match: “We really, really had to fight for the win, and that’s what we did. For me it doesn’t matter who scores the goals. They played well, they started well and they got a very useful goal. It’s very nice.”
England’s great result against Denmark sees them take another huge step forward to the knockout stages and surely puts them amongst the top contenders for the title. Whether they can achieve this success without the full complement of players, however, remains to be seen