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24th Jul 2021

Ellen White clinches victory over Japan as Team GB reach Olympic quarter finals

Simon Lloyd

Team GB progress from the group with a 1-0 win over the hosts in Sapporo

Team GB have reached the quarter-finals of the Olympics after Ellen White’s header secured victory over Japan which saw them progress from their group with a game still to play.

Following a comfortable victory over Chile in their opener, the game against the hosts promised to be a sterner challenge for Hege Riise’s side. This was reflected in the more conservative approach taken by the manager, who deployed Sophie Ingle alongside Keira Walsh in a holding midfield role. This added an extra layer of stability: although Japan shaded the possession in the first half in Sapporo, they failed to convert this into meaningful chances as the well-drilled British defence stood firm.

Team GB picked up the tempo after the interval. Carolin Weir’s introduction added extra attacking impetus and helped her team slowly get on top.

Japan’s limited threat steadily waned as the game went on, with Team GB remaining patient as the seconds ticked away.

The decisive moment came with little over a quarter of an hour still to play. White, buoyed by her brace against Chile on Wednesday, sensed the opportunity as soon as Lucy Bronze picked up the ball on the right. As Bronze’s cross enticed Yamashita from her line, White seized on the hesitation between the goalkeeper and her defender, darting in to glance home the game’s only goal.

Team GB looked comfortable from that point, keeping possession for long periods, sapping Japan’s energy levels in the Sapporo heat. A Weir free-kick in stoppage time might have doubled Team GB’s lead, but only found the roof of the net. It didn’t matter.

Two games; two wins. Despite the concerns surrounding their lack of preparations for the tournament, Team GB march on, with a final group match with Canada in Kashima still to play. For now, the job is done, and qualifying for the last eight with a final group game still to play will only underline their medal credentials.