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Electric England crush China 6-1 to book last-16 clash with Nigeria

Denmark also through after 2-0 win over Haiti

Chelsea star Lauren James scored twice as European champions England swept past shellshocked China 6-1 and into the Women’s World Cup last 16 on Tuesday to set up a clash with Nigeria.

It equalled England’s biggest-ever World Cup victory and booked them top spot in Group D, while consigning the Asian champions to their earliest ever exit.

Denmark beat Haiti 2-0 in the other group game to finish second and line up a knockout-round meeting with co-hosts Australia.

England made an explosive start at Adelaide’s Hindmarsh Stadium with an instinctive finish from Arsenal striker Alessia Russo in just the fourth minute.

Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp and James added further goals before the break.

Wang Shuang converted a second-half penalty for China, but James got her second with a sublime volley, substitute Chloe Kelly was gifted a fifth after a goalkeeper howler and Rachel Daly got in on the act as the clock ticked down.  

England and Japan are the only teams to win all three group games so far, reaffirming their status as among the favourites to win the World Cup.

While they celebrated, China’s tournament ended at the group stage for the first time ever.

The Steel Roses, an early powerhouse in women’s football, made at least the round of 16 in the six previous World Cups they have played, finishing runners-up in 1999 during their heyday.

England, who only needed a point to top the table, started without injured Barcelona midfielder Keira Walsh.

Manchester United captain Katie Zelem replaced her in one of three changes with Jess Carter and Hemp returning in place of Kelly and Ella Toone.

They made a dream start with Hemp breaking down the left and whipping in a dangerous cross which James headed down to Russo who took one touch before burying it in the corner.

China struggled to assert themselves and the inevitable second goal came in the 25th minute.

Skipper Millie Bright won possession and slotted through to James who played in Hemp between two defenders and she finished confidently.

Lucy Bronze clattered the post with a header before James added their third from a well-worked freekick routine, firing a stunner from the edge of the box.

They were unlucky not to be 4-0 ahead at half-time with another fantastic James strike disallowed for offside. 

China had to wait until the 52nd minute for their first chance, but they won a penalty for handball with Wang calmly converting from the spot to give them a glimmer of hope.

But James produced a high-class side-footed volley from an inch-perfect Carter cross for their fourth and when Chinese goalkeeper Zhu Yu horribly misjudged a ball over the top, Kelly pounced for their fifth.

Daly made it a memorable night with another fine volley at the death.

Danes ease through

The Danes, playing at their first World Cup since 2007, thought they had scored early against Haiti in front of just under 18,000 in Perth but it was ruled out after a VAR review found Simone Boye was just off-side.

Denmark made their early pressure count when Haiti conceded a penalty—their third at this World Cup—for handball.

Skipper Pernille Harder scored from the spot.

Haiti woke up and had a golden opportunity just before the half-hour, but captain Nerilia Mondesir’s effort was weak and easily saved by goalkeeper Lene Christensen.

Haiti refused to go quietly in the second half and Melchie Dumornay headed weakly at Christensen from close range as they chased a first World Cup goal.

Denmark sealed the deal deep in stoppage time through Sanne Troelsgaard.

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