Women’s World Cup: England through to knockouts after beating China

England’s Lionesses have reached the knock-out stages of the Women’s World Cup after a dominant 6-1 win against China in Adelaide.

The European champions needed just a point against the Women’s Asian Cup winners to clinch top spot in Group D.

But they settled nerves early on in the match when Alessia Russo hooked in the opener after just four minutes.

Lauren Hemp added a second 26 minutes in, before Lauren James scored her second curled wonder goal of the World Cup to make it 3-0 before half-time.

James thought she had added a fourth with another beautifully placed long-range strike before the break.

However, the referee ruled it out after a review.

VAR punished England again after half-time, when China were awarded a penalty.

The Lionesses conceded for the first time in the tournament after Lucy Bronze appeared to handle the ball and was given a yellow card after the review.

Wang Shuang pulled one back for China from the spot to give the Chinese hope, as the Lionesses let their lead slip to 3-1.

But another stunning James strike restored a three-goal cushion for England.

There was no denying the Chelsea forward her second goal of the game, as she produced a sublime first-time side-footed volley into the far corner of the net.

And Euros hero Chloe Kelly pounced on a goalkeeping error by Zhu Yu to make it five.

Rachel Daly rounded off the scoring to make it 6-1 in a thumping England win.

James was denied her hat-trick when England boss Sarina Wiegman took her off with 10 minutes to go – presumably with an eye on the next round.

The double goalscorer said: “It’s what dreams are made of. Happy for the team and everyone is buzzing and looking forward to going into the next round.

“I felt free, whether I am on the wing or in the middle, I am just happy to be on the pitch playing and enjoying my football. I am happy I can contribute to goals as well.”

On her stunning first-time finish at the far post, she added: “I think like the last game, I just thought ‘Why not? Hit it and see what happens’.”

And she said more is to come, adding: “For sure, each day, each game I am looking to improve and get better, there are many more years of improvement, I can always get better. I just need to stay focused and hopefully that can happen.”

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