England beat Denmark to stand on verge of Women’s World Cup last-16 James scored the only goal of the game in a second 1-0 win for England.

 Japan scored three times from lightning breaks in the first half, once in the second, and defended resolutely to trounce Spain 4-0 on Monday and top Group C at the Women’s World Cup.

Hinata Miyazawa scored twice, Riko Ueki scored once and both were instrumental in each other’s goals as Japan switched swiftly from defense to counter-attack and scored from its only three attempts on goal before halftime.

Mina Tanaka came off the bench to score the last in the 82nd minute as Japan, with only 22% of possession, turned on a counter-attacking master class.

Japan played with a strong and cold wind at its back in the first half and that added carry to long balls forward which helped catch the Spain defense in retreat.

Spain had an overwhelming majority of possession in the half; by the 25-minute mark, it had enjoyed 68% and had more than 230 completed passes to Japan’s 43. But it was timid, reluctant to go forward, and played mostly around the middle of the field, keeping the ball on the ground in the face of the wind.

Japan was content to defend in depth and to wait for the moment to unleash its counter-attack. It sprang the trap for the first time in the 12th; from just inside the Spain half and wide on the left Jun Endo sent a long, curling ball forward which fell into the path of Miyakawa, who neatly slipped her shot past Misa Rodriguez in the Spanish goal.

In the 23rd minute, Moeka Minami cleared from the edge of the Japan area. Ueki nodded the ball back to Nagano who sent Miyazawa away on the right. She passed across the goal to Ueki, who took the ball on her left foot, propped to her right foot, and unleashed a shot that deflected from the foot of Irene Paredes and ballooned over Rodriguez.

Ueki celebrated the goal a day after her 24th birthday.

In the 40th minute, it was Ueki’s turn to deliver for Miyazawa. She broke incisively on the left, passed across to the right as the Spain defense, backpedaling, tried to regroup and Miyazawa finished clinically with her left foot.

Each goal fell into the same pattern and each was executed with the same precision. Spain had few chances before halftime, perhaps its best was Jennifer Hermoso’s header from Ona Batlle’s cross.

Tanaka’s goal was a magnificent solo effort. She beat Rocio Galvez near halfway, eluded Batlle and Paredes, and then drove the ball powerfully into the top left corner. Japan’s four goals came from only five attempts.

Both teams had already clinched places in the round of 16, Japan for the fourth World Cup in succession, and Spain for the second. Both had beaten Zambia 5-0 and Spain had the better goal differential after a 3-0 win over Costa Rica. A draw would have been enough to see Spain finish atop a group for the first time in its history.

But Spain has struggled against Asian teams in World Cup matches, losing to South Korea in 2015 and drawing with China in 2019.

Japan now will play Group A runner-up Norway on Saturday in the round of 16 while Spain will play Group A winner Switzerland on the same day.

Believe the hype. Linda Caicedo is for real, and so are Colombia’s chances of going far at the Women’s World Cup.

As for the country’s fans, who gave Sydney Football Stadium the feel of a Colombia home game on Sunday, their passionate support created a jubilant atmosphere that lingered long after a 2-1 win over two-time champion Germany provided one of the tournament’s great upsets.

“This is something historic for us. We’ve been feeling the whole time the backing from the fans from our country,” Colombia assistant coach Angelo Marsiglia said. “Today we were playing as a home team.”

Caicedo produced another moment of magic to put Colombia on course for back-to-back wins in Group H with her opening goal in the 52nd minute. She needed treatment late in regulation but stayed on the field and, five minutes later, Alexandra Popp equalized from the penalty spot.

That setback for Colombia in the 89th merely preceded an even later twist when defender Manuela Vanegas headed in a winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Cue wild celebrations from Colombia, and looks of disbelief among the German players.

Caicedo and her teammates certainly have had a dramatic campaign.

The 18-year-old Real Madrid star had a health scare earlier in the week when she dropped to the ground, holding her chest in a practice session. Team officials said it was fatigue, and she certainly appeared to be in full flight for her stunning second-half strike.

Cancer survivor Caicedo had already scored from a distance in the 2-0 win against South Korea on Tuesday. But while that goal involved an error from goalkeeper Yoon Young-girl, on this occasion it was all about individual brilliance.

Collecting the ball from just inside the area after a corner, she worked her way into space by bewildering two German defenders in a fast-stepping move before lashing a shot into the top corner.

Caicedo, followed by her teammates, charged toward the corner to get closer to share the moment with the elated crowd.

“Linda Caicedo is a fantastic player. We knew that before the World Cup,” Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said. “We needed to be very attentive.

“It was a good goal. I have to admit that. But we definitely should be better. We should keep the ball.”

Germany is unlikely to be the last team to get the Caicedo treatment in her debut World Cup, provided she remains healthy.

Just days after struggling with fatigue at practice, Caicedo needed medical treatment behind play in the 84th minute. She dropped to the ground and, as she lay face down on the pitch, was checked by trainers as the referee stood nearby. She got up and started walking to the bench but, after signaling she was okay, went back onto the field and continued the game.

Marsiglia later tried to allay concerns, explaining that the teenager had been exhausted but adding that there was a “bit of acceleration” in her heart.

While Caicedo has been her country’s inspiration at the tournament, Vanegas’ late strike embodied the wide spread of talent in the team.

She rose to head in substitute Leicy Santos’ corner deep into time and added on to move Colombia to the top of the group.

“This was a decisive match to qualify for the next round,” Marsiglia said. “This is a great win for the whole country but the game and tournament still continues.”

Germany now must regroup, having gone so close to salvaging a draw when Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez was penalized for bringing down Lena Oberdorf in the box.

Popp, who scored twice in her country’s opening 6-0 rout of Morocco, fired straight down the middle to level the game.

Germany has never failed to advance from the group stage of the World Cup and this was its first loss in a group game since 1995.

It is still expected to beat South Korea in its last game of Group H, but will likely have to settle for second place, which could set up a round-of-16 match with France.

The runners-up at last year’s Euros should have been ahead in the first half when Popp was guilty of missing the target with a volley from close range shortly before the break.

Earlier Lina Magull had the chance to test Perez from close range, but mis-kicked and the opportunity was wasted.


In the last of the group games Thursday, Germany faces South Korea and Colombia plays Morocco, with three teams still able to advance to the knockout stage.

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.

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.

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Lauren James celebrates after scoring her team’s first goal [Justin Setterfield/Getty Images]

James comes through

Wiegman made two changes from the team that squeezed past Haiti 1-0 in their opener, with 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.”

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Denmark’s Rikke Marie Madsen in action with England’s Chloe Kelly [Carl Recine/Reuters]

Walsh injury

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.

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