Japan Women 0-1 GB Women: Ellen White heads in third goal in two games to send GB Women into Tokyo Olympics knockouts

Report as Ellen White header means GB Women will top Group E with a point against Canada in final group game after England striker's third goal in two games at Tokyo 2020

Ellen White was on target again for Team GB
Image: Ellen White was on target again for Team GB

GB Women qualified for the Olympic football knockout stages as Ellen White grabbed a third goal in two games to give them a 1-0 win over hosts Japan.

White's goal settled an otherwise cagey game in Sapporo, with the hosts knowing defeat would severely dent their qualification hopes, while GB Women were equally satisfied to leave with a point after their opening-day win over Chile.

Japan had shaded the opening hour before the introduction of Caroline Weir settled GB Women's midfield, and from then on they never looked back.

Hege Riise's side then had the goal to match their improvement with 16 minutes to go, as White struck again from Lucy Bronze's cross, glancing past Ayaka Yamashita after the goalkeeper's poor decision to leave her line.

The victory takes GB Women through to the quarter-finals and means a point against Canada in their final game would be enough to win Group E.

GB Women improve to seal qualification

GB Women flew out of the blocks again in a deserted Sapporo Dome and fired a warning shot when Lauren Hemp headed wide from a cross in the opening minutes.

But they failed to build on their bright start and allowed their hosts to build their own momentum, and shortly after the half-hour could have fallen behind when Mina Tanaka and Honoka Hayashi went close in quick succession.

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Beyond those chances, a game neither side felt they could lose remained cagey in large parts until the introduction of Weir shortly before the hour, from which point GB Women immediately improved.

Nikita Parris bent an effort just wide of the far post after good work on the right and that same flank would provide their winning goal with 16 minutes remaining.

Bronze and Little combined well on the flank before the former's cross was met by White, who positioned herself perfectly to head over the stranded Yamashita and just inside the far post.

Japan, finally needing to come forward, looked for an equaliser but were never in real danger of testing Ellie Roebuck in the final stages, as GB Women saw out their route to the knockouts in relative comfort.

What the managers said...

Japan coach Asako Takakura: "We played against a great team, they were a great opposition. We knew coming into the game that it was not going to be easy so we had discussions prior to the game.

"We talked about what we had to do with our defence and we had to be very patient.

"In the first half, we executed as we had planned, in the second half the plan was to make more offensive moves but our opponent was very strong and were able to go forward."

GB Women coach Hege Riise: "In the first half, we didn't look like ourselves, we didn't have the speed of play we wanted. We came out as a different team with an attitude and togetherness and we all committed to the last 45 minutes.

"In the second half, we changed formation a little bit and controlled it much better.

"We are all happy, it puts us in a good position and we're able to rest players and recover well. The connections between the players will get better and better each game.

"We were surprised Japan made changes but they had momentum in the first half."

What's next?

GB Women take on Canada in their final group game in Kashima as they look to top Group E, which would see them take on the third-placed side from either Group F or Group G in the quarter-finals, on Tuesday; Kick-off at 12pm BST.

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