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England wins SheBelieves Cup, takes down Japan 3-0

England's Jodie Taylor (9) celebrates a goal with Karen Carney (20) and Beth Mead as Japan's Arisa Matsubara (16) and Risako Oga react during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup soccer match Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

TAMPA, Fla. — One quick goal was followed by another, and another, and soon England had a 3-0 lead over Japan 30 minutes into a Tuesday-night match at Raymond James Stadium.

The scoreline held and England hoisted the SheBelieves Cup at the end, beating out three of the world’s top teams for the title.

“It feels good. It feels really good,” England’s Karen Carney said after the game. “That’s all I can say. Just feel . . . really good.”

First, Lucy Staniforth struck. She navigated through defenders to the center of the box and took an open shot into the lower right side of the next, snaking the ball between Japan goalkeeper Erina Yamane and the post for her second international goal and a 1-0 England lead.

Next up, Karen Carney. After an England throw-in, the ball took a few bounces and forward Jodie Taylor raced toward the end line to cross the ball back into the center before it went out of bounds. A well-positioned Carney lofted the ball into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead in minute 23.

Taylor also set in motion the sequence that led to the first goal, playing a reverse pass to Staniforth. She exited the match with two assists after 51 strong minutes of play. Ellen White replaced her.

And then, Beth Mead. Seven minutes after goal No. 2, Mead took the ball in alone, evaded two defenders and took a left-footed shot for a 3-0 lead. 

The win is a statement for England as it prepares for this summer’s World Cup in France. The Lionesses are ranked fourth in the world by FIFA. Japan is eighth. 

“There’s a belief,” Carney said. “I don’t know. It’s really hard to put my finger on it, but it feels really good. I think no one’s really phased by anything. This group seems to have confidence, and a swag, and, ya know, the manager, he demands more from us. We were winning 3-nil and he still wants more and more from us.

“It’s a fantastic stepping stone. You know, the objective was to come here and perform and win it, and we’ve done it. So, for us, take the confidence, take the good performances. We’ve won it, but we can still be better. We can still be fitter. We can still be sharper. We can still be technically better.”

The other two teams England beat out for the SheBelieves Cup are the United States, ranked first in the world, and No. 10 Brazil. The Lionesses ended the tournament with 7 points and a 2-0-1 record, beating Brazil and Japan and drawing the United States. Japan went 1-1-1 for 4 points, also beating Brazil and drawing the U.S.

Next up, the U.S. and Brazil close out the tournament at 8 p.m. ET. FS1 will broadcast that match.

Japan made a slew of lineup changes during halftime. Rikako Kobayashi, Kumi Yokoyama, Narumi Miiura and SheBelieves star Yuka Momiki entered the match, while Moeno Sakaguchi, Risako Oga, Mayu Ikejiri and Jun Endo exited. The substitutes made an immediate impact, helping Japan take more possession and finding multiple opportunities, but failing to finish. 

In the 59th minute, Momiki got behind the line and took a sharp-angled shot that went just wide of the far post to make the fans behind the net stand up and collectively gasp.

As the second half wore on, England made multiple substitutions and settled back into the game. Both sides traded shots on goal and England goalkeeper Carly Telford made a crucial save in the 79th minute, leaping to punch the ball over the net, but no one found another score and the shiny, metallic Shebelieves Cup went to England.

“I think the fact that we’ve come away with a trophy now, and I think the fact that [manager Phil Neville] has put so much trust in so many players — from 1 to 24, we’ve all played our part in this tournament — and to have a manager who is so confident in every single individual is rare,” England forward Toni Duggan said.

“We’re really fighting together to bring home more trophies.”

See a full replay of the match here

Notes

36′ — England’s Isobel Christiansen was injured after sliding into the back of Japan’s Risa Shimizu. Christiansen hobbled to the end line with a painful look on her face, bending over every few steps as play resumed. It appeared she could barely put weight on her left foot. Georgia Stanway entered the match for Christiansen. 

Goals

Lucy Staniforth’s opening goal for England.

Karen Carney scoring the second goal of the night, again off a Jodie Taylor pass.

Beth Mead makes it 3-0 for England.

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