Wyatt reckoned that her partner’s experience of playing in Mumbai also helped their partnership to flourish, and came at the right time for England after the early strikes from Renuka Singh.
Lauren James contributed two goals and three assists as England thrashed China 6-1 to bag three consecutive wins at FIFA Women’s World Cup Group D and eliminated the Steel Roses from the tournament here on Tuesday.
In the other Group D match held in Perth at the same time, Pernille Harder and Sanne Troelsgaard scored at each half for Denmark, beating Haiti 2-0 to qualify for the round of 16 as the group runners-up, reports Xinhua.
Before the start of final round matches, England led Group D with six points, whereas both China and Denmark trailed with three points each.
Due to the absence of injured key midfielder Keira Walsh, England head coach Sarina Wiegman shifted to a new 3-4-3 formation in lieu of her usual 4-3-3. China’s star forward Wang Shuang, who was benched for the first two matches’ initial halves, started for the first time.
“I am proud of my team how we executed the new formation. Our strategy is always to use the quality of squad as much as possible. My players are very adaptable, so we can change shape easily. We were able to press high from the beginning and kept possession well,” Wiegman said at the post-match press conference.
“We are growing into the tournament. In the first two games, we had some struggling moments and lost control of the ball. Today we hardly had moments like this,” she added.
The European champions broke the deadlock only four minutes into the match, when Alessia Russo received the ball in the penalty area after a headed pass from James, slotting the first shot of the match into the left corner.
In the 26th minute, England doubled its lead in a counterattack as James provided a precise direct pass to assist Hemp who finished with composure.
The Lionesses added the third goal in the 41st minute by James, who was left all alone at the top of the box in a free kick and unleashed the ball home after a combination play. James found the back of the net once again in the stoppage time, but her long-distance stunner was ruled out by VAR due to offside of her teammate.
England had a total control of the first half with 70 percent of ball possession and 10 goal attempts.
Trailing 3-0 behind, the Chinese side started the second half with a more aggressive approach. Wu Chengshu fired China’s first shot from distance to force a corner kick, which led to a penalty converted by Wang Shuang in the 57th minute, after Lucy Bronze’s handball foul in the box.
However, the “unstoppable” James ended the steel roses’ hope of coming back eight minutes later. The 22-year-old cut into the penalty area and volleyed it into the goal, thanks to a right cross from Jessica Carter.
In the 77th minute, James lofted the ball from back, while Chinese goalkeeper Zhu Yu missed the clearance from outside of box to leave Chloe Kelly an open goal to make it 5-1. Seven minutes later, Rachel Daly lashed home at the back post to seal the 6-1 victory for England.
“The formation change of our opponents had caused lots of trouble for us. We wanted to press high but couldn’t do so,” Chinese head coach Shui Qingxia said.
It’s the first time for China to be eliminated from group stage during their eight Women’s World Cup appearances.
“I want to thank my players since they have tried their best. As we can see from the touranment, we are far lagging behind European football in terms of transition speed, physicality and balance. The most important thing is how to respond and improve ourselves in the future,” Shui noted.
England is set to meet Nigeria in Brisbane next Tuesday in the round of 16, while Denmark will face host Australia in Sydney on the same day.