England make solid start in record-breaking women's World Cup
England women are on the verge of reaching the World Cup quarter-finals after coming from behind to beat New Zealand 2-1 on Friday (1 July).
Falling behind to a Sarah Gregorius goal in the first half, Jill Scott pulled England level in the 63rd minute with a fine header. With just under 10 minutes remaining, substitute Jessica Clarke fired home from close range to complete a stunning comeback.
England now face group leaders Japan tomorrow (5 July), where a point would secure a place in the last eight. If Hope Powell’s side win the game in Augsberg, they will go through as group winners.
Reflecting on the victory over the Kiwis, Hope 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.”
Providing they secure their passage into the next round, the team will either meet the host nation and current holders, Germany, or France, who are both vying for first place in Group A having already qualified for the second stage.
Hope continued: “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.”
The 2011 World Cup has drawn attention from across the globe, with record ticket sales and television figures proving its popularity.
10 days before the World Cup got underway, 75 per cent of tickets had been sold for the competition. In the opening game between Germany and Canada at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, a European attendance record was set for women’s football, as 71,755 people witnessed the Germans emerge 2-1 victors.
A combined average audience of 16.6 million German television viewers tuned in to watch their nation defeat Nigeria in their second group game, representing over 50 per cent of the country’s television audience that evening. These television figures are the highest recorded for a women’s World Cup match outside of the USA and China.
Just a week into the tournament, 13 days worth of action remain, leaving plenty of time for new records to be set in what has been a quite unique women’s World Cup.
Excerpts from BBC Sport
Excerpts from FIFA