By 90Min
March 06, 2019

England won the SheBelieves Cup for the first time in their history after brushing aside Japan 3-0 in their final group stage match.

Having beaten Brazil in the opening game, and then earning an impressive draw against World Cup holders USA, the Lionesses knew that a victory would see them lift the trophy for the first time since the tournament's creation in 2016.

Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Such was the motivation of knowing that a win would secure them the crown, Phil Neville's side raced out of the blocks, and took an early lead thanks to a fine driven finish from outside the area by Lucy Staniforth.

With the momentum of an early goal behind their backs, England began to overwhelm their Japanese opponents, and deservedly doubled their lead when Chelsea forward Karen Carney headed home from a Jodie Taylor cross.

The Lionesses then capped off a dominant first-half display with a third, when a sublime cross-field through ball from Manchester City's Keira Walsh sent striker Beth Mead on her way to fire home past Japan goalkeeper Erina Yamane. 

Despite trailing 3-0, Japan - who England also meet in the group stages of the World Cup this year - came out fighting in the second-half, and could count themselves unlucky not to have scored.

Rikako Kobayashi and Aya Sameshima both went close for the side, with England shot-stopper Carly Telford having to make a number of fine reflex saves to preserve her team's clean sheet.

But with Japan failing to take advantage of their opportunities, Neville's side saw the game through to clinch the SheBelieves cup and avenge their demons from last year when they lost out to the USA.

Speaking after the game, Lionesses manager Neville attempted to downplay the significance of winning the cup, instead suggesting that with the World Cup in France around the corner, there were 'bigger things to aim for'.

He said (as quoted by BBC Sport): "It was a sensational performance. I wasn't that bothered before the tournament whether we won or lost, I just wanted to see an improvement and we go home knowing we are definitely in the right direction. 

"We just keep listening to the USA, Japan and Brazil talk about how good we are. But we remain humble, have fun and enjoy moments like this.

"You don't get many chances to get your hands on a trophy. It is my first as a manager so I am just going to enjoy it. It's great for everybody but I think we have bigger things to aim for. We will enjoy it but tomorrow we will look forward to the April camp."

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