European champions England stand on the brink of the Women’s World Cup last-16 after a Lauren James cracker in the sixth minute gave them a 1-0 win over Denmark.
But an otherwise hugely satisfactory Friday night for England in front of just over 40,000 fans in Sydney was marred by what looked like a serious knee injury to influential midfielder Keira Walsh.
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On a night of mixed emotions, Sarina Wiegman’s side will seal their place in the knockout rounds if Asian champions China fail to beat debutants Haiti later on Friday.
Denmark might have stolen a point with three minutes left in normal time when, despite having as little as 20 percent of the possession for much of the game, Amalie Vangsgaard shaved the outside of the England post with a header.
James comes through
Wiegman made two changes from the team that squeezed past Haiti 1-0 in their opener, Rachel Daly and James coming into the starting XI.
And it was the 21-year-old Chelsea forward James who was the star of the first half, before fading in the second.
“It’s an amazing feeling and something I always dreamed of,” she said after the match. “We built on the momentum from the last win and took it into this game. Another difficult win but we got the win and that is the most important thing.”
A night that had been going so well for the Lionesses then suffered a significant setback when Walsh, a key cog in the team that won the Euro last year, tumbled over and appeared to badly hurt her knee.
She was stretchered off in tears and replaced by Laura Coombs seven minutes before half-time, a question mark now hanging over the rest of the Barcelona player’s World Cup.
England were already missing captain Leah Williamson and Euro 2022 Golden Boot winner Beth Mead, both ruled out before the tournament with knee injuries.