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England beat Kiwis to enter quarter final

DRESDEN, July 2 (agencies)
Published on 2 Jul. 2011 11:44 PM IST
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Jessica Clarke came off the bench to put England’s women on course for the World Cup quarter-finals as they beat New Zealand 2-1. New Zealand striker Sarah Gregorius struck first as Hope Powell’s side struggled in the opening half. But Everton midfielder Jill Scott headed in a leveller before Clarke drilled in a late winner in Dresden. England now face Japan next Tuesday where a point would secure a place in the last eight. Powell said: “We enjoy making these tournaments hard work. Credit to New Zealand, they really put us on the back foot and we struggled with it in the first half, but I think we had most of the opportunities and play. “We are not at our best, I think there is more to come but hopefully a win will relax us. We are expected to get out of the group, we are not quite there yet. “It is tough and we just need to relax.” England made a bright start with Rachel Yankey a threat but it was the Kiwis who took the lead in the 18th minute. Amber Hearn got in behind England captain Faye White and crossed from the left where Gregorius arrived between Casey Stoney and Rachel Unitt to divert the ball past goalkeeper Karen Bardsley. Gregorius was then in on goal again but miscontrolled as Unitt made a fine recovery challenge to keep England in the game. Powell made a change at the break, with Karen Carney coming on for Eniola Aluko as the influential Kelly Smith was deployed further forward. But England were almost two down as Hearn headed onto the roof of the net before Jill Scott levelled in the 63rd minute. Smith found Alex Scott on the right and when the full-back swung over an excellent cross, namesake Jill was able to loop a header beyond Jenny Bindon and into the top corner. Lincoln winger Clarke put England ahead with nine minutes remaining. Jill Scott was again involved after Bindon flapped at a cross and rolled a ball across the six-yard box for Clarke to fire into the roof of the net. Fara Williams was denied a late third as Bindon made a sharp save down to her left as New Zealand went out. Earlier in Group B, Japan captain Homare Sawa scored a hat-trick as her side trounced Mexico 4-0 to reach the quarter finals. Sawa, playing in her fifth World Cup, opened the scoring in the 13th minute, and added her second in the 39th after Shinobu Ohno had made it 2-0 in the 15th. The 32-year-old was in plenty of space when she was picked out by Yukari Kinga to complete her treble in the 80th minute. Japan will now play France or hosts Germany in the last eight.

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