Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

Phil Neville's England Lionesses secure place in last 16 of 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup

A 1-0 victory over Argentina in Le Harve on Friday secured England's Lionesses' place in the last 16 alongside hosts France, Germany and Italy

Jodie Taylor celebrates scoring for England against Argentina in Friday's 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup Group D match in Le Havre, France. EPA
Jodie Taylor celebrates scoring for England against Argentina in Friday's 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup Group D match in Le Havre, France. EPA

Phil Neville hailed the team spirit of his England squad after the Lionesses became the fourth team to secure their place in the knockout rounds of the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup.

A hard-fought 1-0 victory over Argentina in Le Havre - courtesy of a Jodie Taylor strike - secured England's place in the last 16 alongside hosts France, Germany and Italy.

A point against second-placed Japan in Wednesday's final Group D match will see Neville's side top the group.

"I thought they were outstanding, we asked them to play with patience, control, rhythm, with speed, and we dominated the whole game like we did against Scotland apart from 11 minutes," Neville said.

Taylor scored her first international goal in 14 months just past the hour-mark as England finally found a way past Vanina Correa in the Argentina goal.

Among Correa's highlights was a 28th-minute penalty save from Nikita Parris, pushing the England midfielder's effort on to the post, and then a spectacular stop to deny the excellent Beth Mead four minutes before the break.

It was an emotional night for England players Fran Kirby and Carly Telford. Kirby lost her mother to a sudden brain haemorrhage when she was just 14. Friday would have been her mother's birthday.

Goalkeeper Telford, making her first appearance at a World Cup, lost her mother to cancer last year.

"We're a family. We were aware today that it was Fran's mum's birthday. It's been well-documented the love and affection she had from her mother and how much she misses her," Neville said.

"We hope their two mums would be looking down on them and be very proud of their performances."

Winning Group D would most likely see England avoid a last-16 showdown against the Netherlands who face Cameroon in their second Group E match on Saturday.

The European champions only just squeezed past New Zealand, who take on Canada in Grenoble, in their opening match thanks to a last-gasp Jill Roord header, and now face a tricky test against a Cameroon side they have never played before.

While the Dutch will be looking to improve, one team who have hit the ground running is Italy. Milena Bertolini's side started the tournament as outsiders but have surprised everyone by qualifying from Group C after scoring seven goals in their opening two matches.

The Italians put five past hapless Jamaica on Friday, with Cristiana Girelli grabbing a hat-trick and Aurora Galli a late double, giving the European side a perfect six points and put them top of their group.

Italy can now guarantee top spot by getting a result from their final game against Brazil, although their superior goal difference means they can lose and still maintain first place.

"I couldn't have even dreamed of scoring a hat-trick in the World Cup, it's an incredible personal satisfaction," Girelli said.

However the penalty with which Girelli opened her tournament account caused controversy, with referee Anna-Marie Keighley pointing to the spot after a VAR check in the 10th minute for a what looked like a soft foul on Barbara Bonansea.

Girelli then missed the spot kick, but Keighley allowed her to retake following another VAR check that Jamaica goalkeeper Sydney Schneider had encroached.

The 29-year-old made no mistake second time round before doubling Italy's lead 13 minutes later when she bundled home Bonansea's flick-on from a corner.

Girelli became only the second Italian woman to score a World Cup hat-trick just after the break when she beat Schneider to a cross.

Updated: June 15, 2019 11:45 AM

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