Japan 0-1 England: Ellen White hands Lionesses vital SheBelieves victory to ease pressure on boss Phil Neville
- Phil Neville’s England faced-off against Japan on Sunday in New Jersey
- The first-half ended goalless with both sides appearing evenly matched
- England finally broke through with Toni Duggan squaring for Ellen White to score
Ellen White’s much loved trademark ‘goggle’ celebration is back after helping England to a narrow victory over Japan in their second SheBelieves Cup clash in New Jersey.
Sat in the team hotel overlooking the Manhattan skyline on the eve of the match, under pressure manager Phil Neville promised a ‘reaction’ from his players after watching his side yet again succumb to the power of the four-time world champions on Thursday.
His Lionesses responded to his rallying cry, despite any hopes of retaining the silverware they won 12 months having already been dashed.
Ranked four places above their opponents in the official FIFA world rankings, England had lost six of their last nine games prior to their trip to New Jersey and there have been calls for his side to prove they can master his ‘non-negotiable’ style of play.
Ellen White found the net to hand England a vital victory in the SheBelieves Cup on Sunday
England battled but had to wait until late on to finally break through a error-prone Japan
Despite their best efforts to play through the thirds, there’s still work to be done here.
Japan who lost 3-1 to Spain were also a team under pressure, with an Olympic Games on home soil around the corner, Coronavirus permitting.
New York’s governor declared a ‘state of emergency’ on Saturday and so the players again refrained from shaking hands prior to kick off – though there were few other visible signs of concern.
Naming six changes to the side that lined up in Orlando three days ago, the England manager stayed true to his word in giving his young starlets a chance against the 2011 World Cup winners.
The two nations looked closely matched early on, with the outcome tough to call
Having held her own in her first senior start against Megan Rapinoe and co., Manchester City forward Lauren Hemp retained her place. 22 year old Everton’s Chloe Kelly was also rewarded with her first start since making her senior England debut more than a year ago.
Although looking somewhat nervous in the opening passages of play, she grew in confidence as the game progressed, linking well with Bethany England.
But it was 19-year-old Hemp who came closest to giving the England the lead less than five minutes in. After stealing the ball from Risa Shimizu, Hemp found herself clean through, though her effort was comfortably saved by goalkeeper Sakiko Ikeda from close range.
Mina Tanaka – who like the rest of the Japan’s starting XI plays her club football in her home nation – twice forced incoming young shot stopper Ellie Roebuck to palm the ball wide of her goal. The 10th ranked side, who were also denied by the woodwork, failed to punish England with clever runs behind the defence.
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
England (4-1-4-1): Roebuck; Daly, Houghton, Bright, Stokes; Walsh [Williamson 60′]; Hemp [Duggan 60′], Stanway [Staniforth 70′], Nobbs [Scott 90+2], Kelly [Parris 60′]; England [White 70′]
Subs: Telford, MacIver, Greenwood, McManus, Russo, Fisk
Goals: White (84′)
Japan (4-2-2): Ikeda; Shimizu [Endo 45′], Doko, Miyake, Miyagawa; Momiki, Miura, Sugita, Nakajima [Ueki 66] Iwabuchi, Tanaka [Uenko ’76]
Subs: Kumagai, Minami, Sugasawa, Naomoto, Ikejiri, Hasegawa, Yamashita, Matsubara, Hirao
Referee: Katja Koroleva
Despite creating multiple chances, England failed to break the deadlock before half time, though there were obvious signs of improvement even if they still lacked the clinical edge in the final third they have long been talking about.
The England bench rang in the changes on the hour mark, with Hemp, Kelly, Walsh Stanway and England all making way midway through the second half.
Neville faced criticism for not utilising England until the 81st against USA and although she quickly proved her worth against Japan, she was left ruing her missed chances when she was replaced by Ellen White.
The Chelsea striker however, who feared she may never make it into the senior fold, certainly gave Neville food for thought.
England were looking to be cruising to another disappointing result but muscled through
Japan have been left rock bottom of the four-team table after another lacklustre performance
White’s brace secured England’s 2-0 win over Asako Takakura’s side in the group stages of the 2019 World Cup in Nice and she again proved the difference between the two sides, putting the Lionesses in front with less than 10 minutes left on the clock.
England’s top scorer last summer, capitalising on a mix up for Hina Sugita and Shiori Miyake, substitute Toni Duggan, played a great ball into the box, serving White eagerly waiting in the box to slot it past Sakiko Ikeda.
Neville will lead his side to Frisco, Texas on Monday ahead of England’s final SheBelieves Cup test on Thursday against Spain.
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