Ellen White goal leads to Team GB win over hosts Japan

Ellen White’s third goal in two games guided Team GB through to the knockout stages with a 1-0 win over Japan in Sapporo.

The 32-year-old settled the contest with a deft glancing header on 74 minutes to make it back-to-back victories and add to her brace in the 3-0 win over Chile.

Hege Riise’s side have locked up a top two finish with a game to spare, coming against Canada in Kashima on Tuesday.

Both sides struggled for rhythm in the early stages, with Lauren Hemp making an early burst forward and narrowly failing to connect with a Keira Walsh cross.

Riise was delighted with her side's performance:

"We're very happy with two wins and that puts us in the position to rest players and recover for the knockout stages.

"We've got a lot of good players in this squad and I feel like we need to use them all.

"We were in a different team in the second half, we had the togetherness I want to see and we were totally committed. I thought we really controlled the game. We were much more direct and really put them under pressure.”

The first shot was fired by the hosts when Honoka Hanayshi stung the palms of Ellie Roebuck with a long-range effort that never threatened to beat the Manchester City goalkeeper.

Skipper Steph Houghton was at her totemic best at the back, heading away two early set pieces, before Roebuck watched a low shot from Mina Tanaka whistle past her post.

Hemp showed signs of the attacking spark that so tormented Chile in the opening game, slipping past Hanayshi and forcing the midfielder into a foul that earned her a booking.

It was thin gruel when it came to goalmouth action in the first half, but Hege Riise’s side started with more purpose in the second as Ellen White nodded a Sophie Ingle cross over the bar.

Riise introduced Caroline Weir into the game to add dynamism to the midfield, where Japan had hitherto proven impossible to break down.

But against Chile, the opening goal originated on the right flank with 2020 World Player of the Year Lucy Bronze.

The right-back steered a high cross into the box and club-mate White got to the hanging ball ahead of goalkeeper Ayaka Yamishita, guiding the header home.

Olympic football is bringing out the best in the 32-year-old, one of five returning from London 2012, who have already guided Team GB through the group as they did nine years ago.

Midfielder Keira Walsh believed Team GB improved as the match went on:

“The Japanese midfield is so technical and it's always tough game. We were too tentative in the first half and didn't get on the front foot.

"We settled and got in their face in the second half and were much more aggressive. It's another really great win.”