Phil Neville Blames Tiredness for Sloppy Second-Half Against Japan as England Seal Group D Top Spot

?Phil Neville pointed to tiredness as the reason for his England side’s limp showing in the latter stages of their Group D match against Japan, despite sealing their progression to the round of 16 as group winners.

Ellen White scored in either half to hand the Lionesses a 2-0 win over Japan, which ensured they won all three of their group matches on the way to the knockout stages.

Having started the game very brightly, White finished off smartly from Georgia Stanway’s neat through ball to hand Neville’s side the lead. England dominated for much of the first half but Japan grew into the game and were in control for the majority of the second period.

As much as their opponents grew into the game, however, the Lionesses became sloppy, with question marks being raised about their hopes of World Cup success. Nevertheless, Neville refused to call his players out, instead insisting that fatigue played its part in ?their 2-0 win.

“Some of our play in the first half was fantastic, but in the second half a few of the players that maybe hadn’t played as much got a little bit tired,” he said, via the ?BBC. ?”But it’s job done and we’re looking forward to the last 16. We don’t need to do much work [on our sloppy passing] we just need to take care with our simple passes and need to keep it tight.”

White once again showed why she is so highly revered in the England camp, scoring with neat finishes with her two shots on target, as Neville praised both her and the more experienced members of the squad for their showings on Wednesday night.

“My experienced players Stephanie Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Karen Bardsley did well and Ellen White is banging them in so it’s a happy house,” he added. “[White and Jodie Taylor] have scored four goals between them in three games. I love it when my centre-forwards are scoring goals.”