SYDNEY (AP) — Lauren James scored after six minutes of her first start at the Women’s World Cup on Friday as European champion England beat Denmark 1-0.
Substitute Amalie Vangsgaard went close to scoring a dramatic late equalizer when heading against the post in the final moments of regulation time, but England held on for back-to-back wins in Australia.
Vangsgaard, who came off the bench to score Denmark’s 90th-minute winner against China in its opening Group D game, beat England goalkeeper Mary Earps, only to see her effort come back off the woodwork.
James, who was benched to start the Lionesses’ opening game against Haiti, provided the decisive moment when making a quick impression after being called up from the start by coach Sarina Wiegman.
Collecting the ball outside the area, she curled a right-foot shot beyond the reach of Denmark goalkeeper Lene Christensen to put England in front.
It was back-to-back semifinalist England’s first goal from open play in more than seven hours of international soccer and set the team on course for back-to-back wins at the start of the World Cup.
The goal also saw the Lionesses tie Norway’s record of 15-successive games at the tournament in which they’ve scored.
James is the sister of Chelsea and England men’s player Reece James, and she’s considered one of the brightest prospects in women’s soccer.
She went on in the second half of England’s opening win over Haiti, and there were no signs that she was overawed by the occasion as she was named player of the match against Denmark.
She brought new energy to England’s attack with her direct runs and forced Christensen into two more saves early on as the Lionesses threatened to extend their lead.
Denmark held out and through Rikke Marie Madsen and Pernille Harder came close to equalizing before halftime.
After the break it was the Danes who had the best chances. Earps had to push away Katrine Veje’s cross that was heading into the top corner before Vangsgaard so nearly provided a late winner for her country again.
While the win puts England on the verge of advancing from Group D, it had a setback when midfielder Keira Walsh injured her right knee in the first half and had to leave the field on a stretcher.
England takes on China in Adelaide in its last game in Group D on Tuesday, while Denmark faces Haiti in Perth.
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
More AP Women’s World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/fifa-womens-world-cup