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Jul 5, 2011

England top, Germany beat France

England overcame the odds to beat in-form Japan 2-0 and seal their place at the top of Group B in the Women's World Cup.

The English were on top throughout and limited Japan to only a handful of chances before Karen Carney's excellent ball down the middle found Ellen White running through and her clever lob over goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori found the back of the net inside 15 minutes.

As Japan pushed on, England's defence held firm and the win was confirmed in the second half as a cross from Rachel Unitt was not cleared and White was allowed to turn her marker away from the ball to give the advancing Rachel Yankey a sight of goal.

The Arsenal midfielder did not disappoint and slammed her shot in from a tight angle to set up a clash with the second placed team in Group A, France.

Coach Hope Powell said: ''We always said at the beginning the squad would get us out of the group. Sophie Bradley was enormous today and we changed a few things and the girls did really well. We are getting closer but we are not there yet - the ambition was to get out of the group, to top the group and now we prepare for the next game.''

Germany continued their march toward retaining their title with a 4-2 win over France, to set up a quarter-final clash with Japan.

The first goal took only 25 minutes, as Babett Peter's long free-kick landed perfectly on the head of Kerstin Garefrekes after some static French defending saw her get away from her marker. Then, seven minutes later, great work down the left from Simone Laudehr saw another pinpoint cross headed home by Inka Grings from close range.

After the break, Marie-Laure Delie got one back from a corner after a ball in from Sandrine Soubeyrand. The striker didn't even have to move as the ball landed perfectly on her head after evading two defenders and there was no-one on the post to clear for Germany.

But the game turned back in Germany's favour again as Grings slipped a ball through to Fatmire Bajramaj who flicked the ball away from advancing goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz only to be hacked her down by her trailing leg. Grings then dispatched the 68th minute penalty.

The ten-women battled bravely though and Laura Georges exposed more lax defending from a corner to head home another for France and, seconds later, Delie was through on goal only to slice her shot wide. However, with three minutes left, Celia Okoyino da Mbabi showed composure to control a bouncing ball and hammer the ball home to seal the result.

France will now face England in the next round without their suspended goalkeeper Sapowicz, while Germany take on Japan.

The other game in Group B saw Mexico pegged back in a dramatic finale by New Zealand in a 2-2 draw that restored some pride, but little else.

The game took just two minutes to get going as Mexico midfielder Stephany Mayor broke the offside trap to slip the ball under goalkeeper Jenny Bindon's legs.

The second came just 27 minutes later as Maribel Domínguez was put through down the left to control the ball well and curl a glorious shot into the top of the net. But New Zealand's Kirsty Yallop crossed for Rebecca Smith to head home a late consolation with one minute left and seconds later Ali Riley got the ball to Hannah Wilkinson to net an incredible equaliser.

New Zealand finish bottom with one point from their three games, while Mexico also miss out on qualification.

While the last game of Group A between Nigeria and Canada was hit by floodlight failure in Dresden and was halted at 0-0 in the 70th minute.

However, upon the restart the tie came to life and Nigeria got their first goal of the tournament from Perpetua Nkwocha, as the ball rebounded back to her. The Nigerians held on to record a 1-0 win over the Canadians, who go home without a single point.

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