England, in their pursuit of Round of 16 qualification at this year’s Fifa women’s world cup 2023, achieved a 1-0 victory over Denmark on Friday (28 July) in Sydney. The England manager, Sarina Wiegman, took a bold step by granting 21-year-old Lauren James (6′) her first-ever World Cup start. This decision proved fruitful as the Chelsea striker scored the game’s solitary goal within the opening ten minutes, virtually guaranteeing England’s progression to the next round.
However, the focus on the result was somewhat overshadowed by Keira Walsh’s injury. The Barcelona midfielder went down in the middle of the pitch with ten minutes to go until half-time.
In visible distress, Walsh immediately ushered on the England medical staff as she appeared to say, “I’ve done my knee.” The 26-year-old was stretchered off after alerting medical staff that she couldn’t continue, but the impact clearly hindered England’s confidence, making them look like a different team from the one that started with such spark.
Denmark grew into the game as the second half progressed, taking advantage of a vulnerable England defence. A change in England’s setup injected life into the Lionesses, with Bethany England getting her first minutes of Fifa women’s world cup 2023, but it wasn’t enough to stop a Danish attack from hitting the bar in the 88th minute.
England were lucky to hang on to a risky 1-0 lead, visibly impacted by the loss of Walsh, but the performance was enough to see them stay clear at the top of Group D with one round of games remaining, and needing just to avoid defeat in their final match against China to guarantee progress to the knockout stages.