Lauren James scored the game's only goal. (Photo: KEEPUP)

A stellar individual goal by Lauren James has earned England the right to become the third country to qualify for the Round of 16 as the FIFA Women’s World Cup moves inches closer to entering the competition’s knockout stage.

After emerging from their opening group stage match-up with three points, England and Denmark knew it would only take one goal to clinch their placement in the Round of 16. In their 18th meeting, competing against each other – the last one occurring in 2019 – it would only take the England Lionesses six minutes to clinch the deciding goal in the encounter.

Entering the game after a disappointing performance against Haiti, where they only achieved one goal, it took England nothing more than six minutes to break the deadlock. Having already taken several opportunities, controlling the majority of possession would finally pay off.

Being given too much room for a player of her quality, Lauren James used a combination of precision and power from outside the box to get the Lionesses the much-needed start they desperately needed.

Announcing herself on the world stage, the Chelsea representative was recalled into the starting team after being used as a substitute against Haiti in their first match of the World Cup. Failing to cement a spot in the starting line-up, the 21-year-old’s performance earnt her massive admirers from the coaching staff and fans alike.

“It was a dream; it was something I’ve been thinking about, but most importantly, just happy to help the team win,” James told the BBC following the conclusion of the match.

“I’m calm all around, on and off the pitch, and I just try to bring that to my game as well. Today I showed that.

The goal seemed to light a fire inside of England, who had Denmark by the throat for the game’s opening quarter; James would have back-to-back chances to double the score—the best chance arising from a Lucy Bronze cross. The Barcelona fullback would continue creating chances, highlighting that she is one of the best in the world down the right-hand side and creating something out of nothing.

Despite dominating possession of the ball, Denmark had their chances throughout the opening 45. While it did place pressure on the English defence, the opportunities would come to no avail.

The game would come to a standstill at the 35th-minute mark, with 22-year-old Keira Walsh being stretchered off the field. In an off-the-ball injury, attempting to reach out for the ball, Walsh immediately knew she had caused severe damage to her knee.

“It did look serious. If you can’t walk off the pitch, it looks serious,” Lioness’s manager Sarina Wiegman said of the injury to Walsh, who was visibly seen leaving the stadium on crutches after the final whistle.

“But we just finished the game.”

The unfortunate injury will now see the Manchester City midfielder miss their next group match against China in Adelaide. This was confirmed by England FA the following day after she received scans late Saturday afternoon.

“Walsh has been ruled out of Tuesday’s final Group D match against China PR in Adelaide and will remain at England’s Terrigal base to continue her recovery,” the statement read.

“Her knee injury will continue to be assessed by England medical staff, and no further update will be provided at this stage.”

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Denmark was eager to replicate their game against China, in which they netted a late goal to walk away with the three points, but luck was not on their side as an Amalie Vangsgaard header hit the post and went wide instead of finding the back of the net.

The victory sees the Lionesses move to the top of Group D, while Denmark will be hoping China lose to Haiti later in the night and they can secure another win with one game remaining in the group stages before the Round of 16.

“We started well, we played well and scored a goal. Then we had a little stage in the first half where we lost too many balls we shouldn’t have,” Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman said via BBC Sport.

“Then there was the injury of Keira, and the second half was a fight. We adapted to the situation, really had to fight for the win, and that’s what we did.

“It doesn’t matter who scores the goals, but Daly and James started well and it was a great goal.”

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