Women's World Cup Results: Italy thrash Jamaica, England edge past Argentina, Japan register first victory
Italy thrashed Jamaica 5-0 in Reims to virtually guarantee qualification for the last 16 of the Women's World Cup, thanks to a brilliant hat-trick from Cristina Girelli and a brace from substitute Aurora Galli.
The crowd at the Stade Auguste Delaune were treated to another rendition of breathtaking football, three days after the USA plundered 13 goals past a hapless Thailand side.
The Azzurre top Group C with six points and are ahead of Brazil and Australia, both of whom are on three points, whilst Jamaica haven't opened their account yet.
Barbara Bonansea was brought down in the box by Allyson Swaby and a VAR review resulted in a penalty being awarded to the Italians.
Girelli had to retake the spot kick as Sydney Schneider had stepped off her line, and the penalty was converted in the second attempt.
Girelli doubled Italy's advantage in the 25th minute with a second strike, scoring from a corner kick. Her hat-trick arrived soon after half-time from a header that nestled into Schneider's net.
Galli replaced Valentina Bergamaschi and scored an absolute peach of a goal from outside the box to notch up Italy's fourth goal.
She secured her brace after rounding Schneider and tapping the ball in the back of the net to seal an extremely impressive win for the Azzurre - one which brings them to the cusp of qualifying for the knockout stages of the showpiece event.
England edge past Argentina
In Group D, England sealed their progression into the knockout stages of the World Cup in Le Havre, courtesy Jodie Taylor's goal at the hour mark.
Coach Carlos Borrello's Argentina side were considered one of the weakest teams heading into the tournament, but their hard-fought draw against Japan ensured that Phil Neville's side had their work cut out and needed to be extremely clinical against the South American outfit.
Some frankly atrocious time wasting, an excessively robust approach, and heroics from their 35-year-old veteran goalkeeper Vanina Correa helped Argentina keep England at bay, but Taylor's strike in the 61st minute ensured the Lionesses' safe passage into the round of 16.
Argentina's hugely important and positionally aware holding midfielder Lorena Benitez played an instrumental role in breaking most of England's attacks and didn't allow the Lionesses to get into their rhythm. Vice-captain Lucy Bronze, who is known to be particularly tough, was singled out and subjected to some really rough treatment by the Argentines.
She was quite simply hauled down and reduced to tears after being subjected to a blanch-inducing challenge by Ruth Bravo. Neville didn't mind the South American sides approach though, and appreciated their 'win at all costs' mentality.
However, despite their veteran goalkeeper Correa's heroics on the night, Argentina ultimately fell short. After parking the bus and simply playing with the intention of not letting a goal in for most of the night, Borrello's side finally ventured forward in numbers just before the hour mark.
England took complete advantage of this rare attacking wave and pounced on the ball once Argentina's rare endeavor upfield broke down. Jill Scott and Fran Kirby motored ahead with the ball and Beth Mead's delightful first-time cross was met by Taylor, who's blindsided run resulted in the all-important goal. England have now joined France, Italy, and Germany as teams who have already qualified for the knockout stages.
Scotland all but eliminated after defeat against Japan
Elsewhere in Group D, Japan's poise and calmness under pressure helped them register their first victory in the 2019 World Cup and left Scotland on the brink of elimination.
Scotland just couldn't live with Japan's incredible pressing and remained largely restricted through the course of the game. Naturally, they tried to do a lot of things in order to get out of their rut, but ultimately, they weren't able to do anything of huge significance.
Japan were streets ahead of Scotland in terms of individual technical ability and also functioned better than them as a collective.
Mana Iwabuchi's delectable strike from outside the box put Japan ahead in the 23rd minute. Their second came in the 37th minute after Yuika Sugasawa was softly brought down in the box by Rachel Corsie.
Sugasawa placed an incredibly calm penalty in the bottom corner and goalkeeper Lee Alexander couldn't do anything about it.
However, Scotland kept fighting and were rewarded a consolation for their persistence, with Lana Clelland's thumping 25-yard effort beating Ayaka Yamashita convincingly.
Scotland coach Shelley Kerr was impressed by her team's ability to never back down and keep fighting in the face of adversity.
Kerr's side will face off against Argentina in their final group stage encounter and nothing other than a win can help their cause.