Sensational Lauren James fires the Lionesses to the last-16 in style

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Chelsea star Lauren James once again demonstrated her class with another barnstorming performance for England in Adelaide, firing the Lionesses through to the last-16 with a dazzling 6-1 victory over China PR on Tuesday afternoon. 

The Blues midfielder netted a brace in south Australia to take her tally to three goals in as many games at the Women’s World Cup following her long range match-winner against Denmark on Friday. 

Had it not been for an extremely contentious decision by VAR ruling out another stunning effort, the 21-year-old would have had a hat-trick and been level on goals with Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa at the top of the scorers chart.

Dodgy rulings aside, England were tremendous and well deserved their convincing victory over a China team who now bow out of the tournament following a win and two defeats in Group D. 

Arsenal’s Alessia Russo opened the scoring inside the opening four minutes with a neat near-post finish before the Lionesses doubled their advantage through Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp – who was a standout performer throughout – just before the half hour mark. 

James’ double came either side of the break before goals from Manchester City’s Chloe Kelly and Aston Villa’s Rachel Daley cemented the six-goal victory, which sees Sarina Wiegman’s side progress to the knockout stages having topped their group with three straight victories; eight goals scored and just one conceded. 

The Lionesses will face Nigeria in the last-16 on Monday, hopeful of booking their spot in the quarter-finals of the competition. The African nation finished second in Group B behind co-hosts Australia with one win and two draws from their three matches, so England will feel confident in their chances of progressing – especially given how dominant they were against China. 

Should players such as James, Hemp and Russo continue to display the same level of quality they exhibited during Tuesday’s group-completing obliteration, England will prove to be an unstoppable force in the latter stages of the tournament and stand every chance of following their memorable 2022 European Championship victory up with a maiden World Cup triumph. 

Defensively the Lionesses have been outstanding, too. Millie Bright’s dominance at the heart of the back line has complimented the technicality of the marauding Alex Greenwood and Lucy Bronze, who have been both resilient and creative in equal measure as they continue to underpin this ultra-talented Lionesses side – a side who now look more than capable of going the distance following a relatively slow start to their campaign in Australia and New Zealand. 

While Reece James gears up for the new Premier League campaign starting next weekend, it is his younger sister currently writing the headlines for the back pages. At the tender age of 21, you can’t help but feel this is only the start of many history book-worthy stories still yet to be sewn in ink.

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