20 min: Scotland have boosted their chances of taking third place in this group by taking the lead against Argentina thanks to a goal by Little.
19 min: Stanway fires off a vicious shot from 20 yards, forcing a superb one-handed save from the goalkeeper, at the expense of another corner for England. That really was a good stop by Yamashita because she had to adjust as the ball swirled in the air. And Stanway is having a stormer so far, too.
17 min: England are playing with swagger now. Scott tries to top off a period of expansive play with a cracking drive from 25 yards, which is put out for a corner.
GOAL! Japan 0-1 England (White 14)
Stanway makes a lovely turn mid-way inside the Japanese half and then, while sliding, slips a canny pass through to White, who latches on to it on the left-hand side side of the box and coolly slots it past the advancing goalkeeper. A splendid way to open the scoring!
13 min: Duggan’s dangerous delivery causes problems for Japan but they eventually scramble it out for another corner. This one is overhit.
12 min: Stanway wins the ball in opposing territory as Japan are caught trying to play their way out. She exchanges passes with Daly and then unloads a shot from 25 yards. It takes a nick on its way wide, giving England a corner.
10 min: Japan are happy to let England knock it around the back, but once the Lionesses try to advance up the pitch they find the going much tougher.
8 min: Freekick to Japan mid-way inside the English half. Yokoyama lines it up as if she’s going to shoot … and she unleashes a swirling beauty! Bardsley hurls herself across her goal and gets both hands to it, pushing it out for a corner. Terrific shot and save!
8 min: White collects a long throw-in at the edge of the Japanese six-yard box and tries to bustle her way into a shooting position, but three defenders prevents her from turning.
6 min: Loose play by Walsh in the English half cedes possession to Japan, who go in quick for the attempted kill. But Yokoyama skies her shot from the edge of the area.
4 min: Stokes does well to win back possession for England in the opposing half after Iwabuchi threatened to launch a counter-attack.
2 min: England stroke the ball around the back for about a minute. Japan aren’t too bothered about pressing. This is not a start that could be described as urgent.
1 min: We have kickoff! Japan get the game going and immediately begin zipping the ball around with their customary precision … for about 15 seconds, whereupon England get a throw-in.
The anthems having been solemnly sung, it’s nearly time for the action…
AC/DC’s Shook Me ALl Night Long has been replaced by an excitable PA announcer, who tells the crowd that the teams are about to enter the pitch. And here they come, full of smiles and relaxed vibes! The crowd has swelled too, so the stadium in Nice looks to be around half-full.
In today’s other game in this group, Scotland are taking on Argentina with a potential route to the knockout stages up for grabs by dint of finishing as one of the best third place teams. Here is the lineup that Shelley Kerr has gone for:
Scotland: Alexander, Smith, Corsie, Beattie, Docherty, Evans, Little, Crichton, Weir, Emslie, Cuthbert.
It looks like this duel for top spot/second spot has not exactly gripped the locals: the stadium looks to be about a quarter full. Mind you, the stadium in Nice is hard to get to – the transport links are frankly rubbish – so maybe there have been delays and and there’ll be an influx in the 30 minutes before kickoff.
Toni Duggan is on the pitch warming up with the rest of her teammates. In a pre-recorded interview with BBC she says she’s been impressed by the team’s performances so far. “There’s a lot more to come so far but so far it’s been job done. Two games, two wins, and good performances as well against good teams … The girls have handled it so well.” Regarding Japan she says “they’re a great team … they’re really good on the ball, technically very gifted. It’s going to be very tough but I love playing against Japan.”
After all his brave talk about fielding his best tea in the wholesome pursuit of a victory, Phil Neville has jazzed up his lineup with no fewer than eight changes. Notabe among the newcomers is Toni Duggan, who’ll make her first appearance of the tournament after recovering from injury. Japan have made just two changes.
Japan: Yamashita; Shimizu, Kumagai, Ichise, Sameshima; Kobayashi, Nakajima, Sugita, Endo; Yokoyama, Shimizu
England: Bardsley; Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes; Walsh, Scott; Daly, Duggan, Stanway; White
Referee: C Umpierrez (Uruguay)
Hello and welcome to the decisive match in Group D. We are assured there will be no jiggery pokery here, as the managers of England and Japan say their teams are hellbent on victory even though failure to win might mean an easier path to the final. Yes, winning this group could prove somewhat Pyrrhic, as it could result in facing France or the United States in the semi-finals, whereas finishing runners-up might put off such a showdown until the final. But such calculations are not worth dwelling on for Phil Neville, who says his team are all about trying to beating whomever they come up against – in other words, though a draw might do for them here, playing for a draw just will not do. Besides, what a boost it would be to England to avenge that painful semi-final defeat of four years ago, when Japan prevailed 2-1. So then: Bring. It. On!
Kick-off: 8pm BST, 4am Japan, 9pm local.