Ellen White’s second-half goal sees GB progress through to the knockout stages as Hege Riise’s side win 1-0 against tournament hosts Japan.
Sparse in chances and cagey at times, neither team wanted to lose today’s game and Japan proved an extremely tough opponent to break down.
A positional error from Ayaka Yamashita was held at the mercy of a glancing header from White, who so far has scored all of Team GB’s tournament goals.
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The introduction of Manchester City midfielder Caroline Weir changed the game for GB and gave some welcomed freedom to Kim Little and Lauren Hemp, who had looked frustrated for most of the game.
The win leaves Hege Riise’s side unbeaten, and more importantly carries them through to the knockout stages having only played two games.
For Japan, beating Chile in their final group match is an absolute must if the home nation are to continue their hopes at clinching a medal.
TALKING POINT: DO JAPAN HAVE ENOUGH TO BEAT CHILE?
Today’s result will sit heavily amongst Asako Takakura’s side, who must have left the pitch feeling like they deserved more.
The difference between the two sides was marginal. Team GB arguably boasted more attacking prowess, but that was met with an equally as impressive defensive display from Japan, who kept the explosive threat of Hemp, White and Little at bay until the 72nd minute.
Having seen the test they provided to Team GB today, Japan should hold some confidence that they can clinch three points from their upcoming clash with Chile.
The physicality and intensity off the ball will certainly make it difficult for Chile to convert many chances. Where Takakura’s side may look to improve is the threat that Japan poses in the final third, potentially an earlier introduction of star forward Mana Iwabuchi could make a difference.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: CAROLINE WEIR
Although not introduced until the 58th minute, Weir's impact was instant and proved pivotal in turning the game around for a frustrated GB side.
The midfielder’s movement and vision encouraged Team GB to carry the ball forward with much greater conviction, and drew out the talents of Hemp and Little, which had been suffocated by the Japanese defence for the entirety of the first half.
GB: Roebuck (8), Bronze (8), Houghton (8), Williamson (7), Stokes (8), Walsh (6), Ingle (6), Parris (7), Little (8), Hemp (8), White (9) SUBS: Weir (9), Daly (7), Stanway (7)
JAPAN: Yamashita (6), Shimizu (7), Miyagawa (7), Minami (7), Kumagai (6) Hasegawa (8), Nakajima (7), Sugita (7), Shiokoshi (8) Hayashi (7), Tanaka (7) SUBS: Narumi (6), Jun (7), Iwabuchi (8)
Ellen White celebrating her goal for Team GB against Japan
Image credit: Getty Images
25' SLOPPY FROM GB...GB looking slightly rattled here. Hayashi pounced on a ball that was sloppily given away by Hemp but Bronze managed to clear the ball away.
37' DEADLOCK STILL GOING! It's not surprising that chances have been sparse for GB. Little, Hemp and White have been swarmed by two or three players as soon as they even get a touch on the ball. A merit to their performance in the opening game, but a tall obstacle that needs to be overcome by GB.
61' BETTER FROM GB..Team GB look like they're regaining some rhythm. The addition of Weir has opened up play much more freely and Hemp is enjoying some more time on the ball.
63' CHANCE FOR HOUGHTON! Japan attempted to clear a scrappy array of balls from the box which eventually fell to Houghton. The city defender volleyed the ball towards goal but couldn't get her body over the ball enough to steer it goalward.
73' GOAL (White) Japan 0-1 Great Britain Fantastic header from Ellen White! The deadlock is finally broken. Great play originally from Little who holds the ball up and relays to Bronze. Bronze sends a looping ball into the box and White flicks a glancing header across goal and into the back of the net. Extremely questionable goalkeeping from Yamashita, who came out for the ball but failed to make any connection.
The 88 seconds that cost Team GB
Tokyo 2020 (W)
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