Lionesses primed to attack in last 16 – Phil Neville

Japan v England – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 – Group D – Stade de Nice

Phil Neville said England were “ready to attack the business end” of the Women’s World Cup after they wrapped up their Group D matches with a 2-0 win over Japan in Nice.

Having gone into the contest already qualified for the last 16 and needing to avoid defeat to cement top spot, the Lionesses completed a 100 per cent record in the pool as Ellen White netted a brace.

White produced a cool finish in the 14th minute following good work from Georgia Stanway, then slotted in her second goal, and third of the tournament, in the 84th having been teed up by substitute Karen Carney. 

The latter effort came after a spell in which Japan had threatened to equalise.

And when Neville was asked afterwards if it mattered about the performance when the team was winning, the England boss said: “I think when we get to the last 16, it’s about winning.

“We place a big emphasis on winning. We do like to play with a certain style, and I think in the second half because we were so open and just a little bit fatigued, we probably got exposed a little bit.

“We’ve got another clean sheet, we’ve won another game, we’ve played three and won three and we are just where we want to be – in the last 16, ready to attack the business end of the tournament.”

Japan v England – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 – Group D – Stade de Nice

Neville’s side, who previously beat Scotland 2-1 and Argentina 1-0, will now face a third-place finisher in the next round – either China (Group B), or Cameroon or New Zealand (Group E) or Chile or Thailand (Group F).

That will be determined on Thursday when Groups E and F conclude, and the match will take place on Sunday in Valenciennes.

After stressing in the build-up to the Japan match that he wanted to win it and would pick his “best team” to achieve that, Neville made eight changes to his starting XI.

Neville, who had made four changes for the match before, said when asked what he might do for the last 16: “It depends on what team we are we playing. 

“I said yesterday we’d pick our best team today, our strongest team, and the team we picked was the strongest team to play against Japan.

“We need to decide which team we are playing, then decide how they play, how we are going to beat them, and then the players that are going to fit best, and I think that is what rotation is about.

“It’s not about throwing 23 players into a hat and pulling out 11, we strategically plan each rotation.”

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