The Lionesses cemented their place at the top of the pile in Group D with victory over their semi-final vanquishers from 4 years ago. And while it may not have all been 90 minutes of fireworks, they provided a sure-footed masterclass in executing a gameplan to a T.
It was heartening to see them take their chances but slightly alarming that they gifted so many at the other end. That said, another set of primo individual performances mean they take into the knockout phase a depth of squad that will have the other big hitters quivering in their high-tops.
Karen Bardsley – Made a right good gag out of this ‘smaller goals’ cobblers. Only her acrobatics denied an early Japan free-kick destined for top bins from nestling in the corner. Agile and alert at all times, Bardsley made a massive stop in the final minute, standing her ground and scooping the ball away with her foot. 8/10
Lucy Bronze – Clearly told to exercise more restraint and sit back compared to previous games. With qualification sealed, who could argue with that? Her forays forward were more measured but she still found the right time to push on before locating Duggan at the back post and tee up the striker’s decent volley. 7/10
Steph Houghton – Without a doubt her best game in France so far. Made two outstanding last-ditch tackles to prevent would-be goals. Utilised her bags of experience to spot signs of danger and extinguish it swiftly. Firstly, covering for Bright who was caught out of position then, secondly, following in a Japanese shot and dealing effectively with Bardsley’s parry into no-man’s land. 8/10
Millie Bright – Showed a slight hangover from the shoulder injury that kept her out of action for the last game and a half. Did the simple things well - mopped up the loose balls, but was undoubtedly a little off the boil. 6/10
Demi Stokes – An impressive all-around performance in her first appearance at this tournament. Slotted into the left-back role well and has done enough to give Neville something to ponder. 7/10
Rachel Daly – A woman playing in velcro boots, Daly had little interest in coughing up possesion all evening. Did well to find herself through on goal in the first half and troubled the keeper with a decent strike. Grafted tirelessly off the ball and no stranger to piling into any 50/50. A savvy showing highlights perfectly the range options Phil Neville is blessed with. 8/10
Jill Scott – As commanding performance as ever from England's enforcer. Prowled up and down the park menacingly all night long never offering the opposition a shred of respect; Scott brings some much needed edge to this midfield. 8/10
Keira Walsh – Her range of passing is such that it might one day be blessed with an apocryphal tale about Gary Neville's backside. Gave Japan no time on the ball and allowed England to control the tempo throughout. 7/10
Georgia Stanway – Delighted in getting on the ball and driving at the opposition, just as she did to play in her brand-new Man City playmate, White, for the first goal. Her youthful gusto was no match for Japan, constantly contesting for the ball high up the pitch. Fashioned a couple of goal-scoring opportunities for herself too. 8/10
Toni Duggan – Slightly rusty but grew into the game. Worked her socks off and had a smart volley well-saved in the second half. Defended from the front and, in that sense at least, definitely pulled her weight. 6/10
Ellen White – Two touches, two shots, two goals. Always has a sixth sense of where the goal is in relation to her, no matter which way she is facing. Her second was almost identical to the one she netted against Scotland, seizing a yard of space and curling it first time just inside the post. 9/10
White celebrates her second of the game and third of the tournament.
Jade Moore – Her raw energy made Japan’s task that little bit harder and was involved in the build-up to the second goal. 7/10
Karen Carney – Showed world-class vision and weight of pass to play in White and bag an assist for the second goal. 8/10
Nikita Parris – Managed to have an input on the second goal despite only being given a five-minute runout. 7/10
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