Prior to England’s match against Japan in Augsburg on Tuesday, they had never beaten the Nadeshiko. The Asians, ranked fourth in the world, were favourites going into the game following wins against New Zealand and Mexico. Hope Powell’s side, however, had looked off-colour in the opening two games of the tournament and were clear underdogs in Augsburg.
However, England found form with a deserved 2-0 win. Indeed, their opener, scored by 22-year-old forward Ellen White, will go down as one of the goals of the tournament. With 15 minutes on the clock and 25 yards away from goal, she spotted Ayumi Kaihori off her line and expertly lofted the ball into the net.
FIFA.com caught up with the Arsenal forward after the game to get her feelings on the win.
FIFA.com: Ellen, would you say it was a deserved win?
Ellen White: For 90 minutes it was an excellent team performance and we really battled for each other. We tried to deny the Japanese space to play and they are a great side but we definitely I think deserved to get the three points and top the group, so it’s really pleasing.
What was the gameplan?
We said in the changing rooms, that we are not going to leave anything on the pitch and that we have to try and win every single ball. We gave everything. Everyone was pressing the Japanese, protecting each other. No one gave up and it was a really good team performance. We’re tired after all that, but elated too. The joy of winning makes us forget about any pains! To beat Japan definitely gives us more confidence going into the quarter-finals. We are really proud, so hopefully we can be positive and take this into the next game.
This is your first FIFA Women’s World Cup – and you’ve marked it with a goal. Talk us through it.
You’ve given me goosebumps! It was a fluke really, I just stuck my leg out, it hit me and went in! No, seriously, it was a great ball by Karen Carney. I just saw it and wanted to strike it. I knew that the goalie was a little bit smaller than the goalies we’d come into contact previously, so I tried to lob her and it was great to see it go in. To be called up for a World Cup is the pinnacle of your career, then to play and score is just unbelievable. You can’t really put it into words. It’s amazing to score in a World Cup.
You may hit the headlines for that goal, but is there anyone else who stood out for you?
Jill [Scott] really deserved her player of the match award. She played unbelievably well, as did Anita [Asante] who was everywhere. The second goal from Rachel Yankey came at a really good time. It settled us down. The back four also did a great job. It was a real team performance.