Katie Robinson knows England left many unimpressed with its underwhelming 1-0 victory against overmatched Haiti in its opening match at the Women’s World Cup.
England is still tied with Denmark atop the Group D standings, regardless of how they played against Haiti, and that’s all that really counts to Robinson.
“Every game at a World Cup is going to be difficult,” Robinson said. “Most importantly, we got the three points, and that’s all that matters right now.”
Well, what actually matters next is Friday’s match against Denmark in Sydney, where the top spot in the group is up for grabs as both teams try to advance to the knockout round. It is the first meeting between the two teams at the Women’s World Cup, although they faced off three previous times at the European Championship.
England defeated Denmark twice in 1984, but the Danes were the winner in 2005, the last time the two nations faced in international play. They met in a friendly in 2019, won by England 2-0.
Denmark is back at the World Cup for the first time since 2007 and beat China 1-0 in its opening game.
England understands it must pick up its play against Denmark, which is ranked 13th in the world and a far tougher opponent than Haiti.
“We’re all working really hard in training to make sure we’re a bit more clinical, creating more chances and obviously getting our goal percentage higher. We know it’s something that we need to improve on,” England forward Lauren Hemp said. “We are working really hard as a team to make sure that we’re ready for the game against Denmark and ready to score some goals.”
England is ranked fourth in the world and the reigning European champions. The Lionesses won all six of their games to win the tournament they hosted last year.
But England has not scored a goal in open play since the 23rd minute of the Women’s Finalissima against Brazil on April 6 — a span of 367 minutes.
“Heading into the World Cup, we’ve shown that we’re dominant against a lot of teams, so we just need to be a bit more clinical and have those percentages rise in the next game,” Hemp said.
Denmark pulled out the win over China when substitute Amalie Vangsgaard scored in the 90th minute to give the Danes their sixth win in their last seven international matches. Denmark had a clean sheet in five of those games.
The Danes did not advance out of the group stage in their last two tournament appearances, but a win over England would make them the likely Group D winners. Denmark has never won two matches at a single Women’s World Cup before.
Hildah Magaia will play for South Africa, which believes it has a chance to win its first Women’s World Cup game when it plays Argentina.
Magaia scored for South Africa in its tournament opener, but was injured on the play and couldn’t finish the game. Sweden went on to win 2-1, but the performance gave the South Africans confidence they can get a victory.
Argentina dropped a 1-0 opener to Italy.
“Knowing that we went toe-to-toe with the No. 3 country in the world and it took a superhuman effort from them to get the result, we’re very positive for the next two matches,” South Africa coach Desiree Ellis said after the Sweden loss. “We’re not underestimating the teams, but we know our capabilities.”
Magaia and her coach both said she would “definitely” be able to play against Argentina.
China and Haiti were both disappointed by opening-game losses and next face off to stay alive in Group D in a match scheduled for Adelaide, Australia.
China probably thought it would open the tournament with a win over Denmark and instead lost 1-0.
China has been to the knockout round in all six of its previous tournament appearances and probably counted Denmark as an early win. China shouldn’t overlook Haiti, which surprised by hanging with European champion England in a 1-0 loss to the Lionesses.
Playing so well against England was a huge feat for Haiti, which maybe now believes it has a shot at beating China.
Haiti needs to shore up its defense and has been scored on in all eight of its previous international games. But Haiti suffered a blow against England when defender Jennyfer Limage tore her ACL.
China has never lost consecutive group games in the history of the tournament.