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.
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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.
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.
GB Women take on Canada in their final group game 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.
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