(Reuters) – England are “right where they want to be” after securing progress to the knockout stages of the women’s World Cup as group winners with victory over Japan on Wednesday, head coach Phil Neville has said.
Forward Ellen White scored either side of halftime as England beat 2011 champions Japan 2-0 in Nice to secure top spot in Group D with a perfect record.
“We got another clean sheet, won another game and we’ve played three and won three,” Neville told reporters. “We’re where we want to be – in the last 16 and ready to attack the business end of the tournament.”
The Lionesses showed some signs of fatigue with intensity levels dropping in the second half as they struggled to keep pressing their opponents, but Neville said he would not change the team’s style of play for the knockout stages.
“In the second half, because we were so open and fatigued we probably got exposed a little bit,” he added. “(But) the style is non-negotiable however far we go.
“When you get to last 16 it’s about winning. We place a big emphasis on winning as we like to play in a certain style.”
England’s round-of-16 match will be held in Valenciennes on Sunday, but the Lionesses will only find out who they are facing after the final round of group games later on Thursday.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)