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England to face Nigeria’s Super Falcons After Trashing China 6-1

Lauren James scored twice and assisted three other goals as England beat China 6-1 to set up a round of 16 clash with Nigerian on Monday.

England, ranked fourth by FIFA, needed only a draw to win Group D and face the second placed team in Group B (Nigeria), but they produced a masterclass in attacking football to make mincemeat of China in Adelaide.

Propelled by the youthful James, whose older brother, Reece, also plays for Chelsea, the Three Lionesses showed why they are reigning European champions, as early as the fourth minute when James teed up Alessia Russo for the opening goal.

Soon after, James provided her second assist when she slipped the ball to Laura Hemp to make it 2-0, before volleying in the third from the edge of the box.

Another effort was ruled out for offside by VAR before China reduced the tally through Shuang Wang from the spot when Lucy Bronze handled the ball in the box.

Whatever ambition China had of getting on even terms was vanquished by James, who volleyed Jess Carter’s deep cross past Yu Zhu for England’s fourth.

Second-half substitute, Chloe Kelly and Rachel Daly, completed the rout to knock the fight out of the Chinese, pushing the Asians out of the tournament.

Denmark finished as the second-best team in Group D after beating Haiti 2-0 and will meet Group B winners, Australia, in the round of 16.

It would have been so different if Nigeria had beaten Ireland in their last Group B match on Monday morning. Rather, the Super Falcons drew goalless with the ‘Ladies In Green,’ which gave hosts, Australia, opportunity to jump to the top of the group with a 4-0 thrashing of Canada, and avoid a clash with England, who have been tipped to win the championship.

Nigeria, ranked 40th in the world, were not expected to come through their group, but have been one of the stories of the tournament. The super Falcons punched above their weight by drawing with Canada and beating Australia, and England will need to be wary of being on the wrong end of another upset.

Pundits expect them to once again rely on James, who has been the standout player for Coach Sarina Wiegman’s side Down Under, with three goals in three games.

“Happy for the team and everyone is buzzing and looking forward to going into the next round,” James said after the win over China.

“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.”

The Nigeria versus England game at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, on Monday next week, will start by 8.30 a.m.

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