England’s 1-0 win over Denmark at the Women’s World Cup on Friday was overshadowed by a serious-looking injury sustained by its star midfielder Keira Walsh who had to be stretchered off in the first half.
Lauren James scored the only goal of the game in the sixth minute, curling home an exquisite effort from just outside the box to give the European champions the lead.
However, a dominant first half was tarnished when Walsh – England’s midfield metronome – went down clutching her knee with no other player in her vicinity, with the 26-year-old appearing to be in visible pain.
TV cameras appeared to show the Barcelona midfielder telling the England bench that she had “done my knee.” After receiving some medical treatment on the pitch, Walsh was stretchered off in tears.
England is already without defender Leah Williamson and forward Beth Mead, who both suffered anterior cruciate ligaments last season. Williamson, Mead and Walsh played major roles in England’s Euro 2022 title win.
In Walsh’s absence, England continued to create opportunities and had the better of proceedings without finding the necessary cutting edge to extend its lead.
Knowing a win would secure its spot in the knockout phase of the tournament, Denmark ramped up the pressure on England’s goal, but was unable to find a way past Mary Earps.
Denmark came within the width of the post from earning a late draw when Amalie Vangsgaard’s glancing header clipped the frame of the goal with Earps stranded.
In the end though, England was able to move to the brink of booking its spot in the last 16, with one final Group D game against China to come.
After the 1-0 victory, England manager Sarina Wiegman called Walsh’s injury “serious” and said that she will “probably” go for a scan.
Asked if Walsh’s injury affected her team for the remainder of the game, Wiegman told the BBC: “I think they did a great job. The team really picked it up but it is not nice to see a player on the pitch [like that]. I think the team picked up really well and we had to fight. That’s what we did.”
Argentina vs. South Africa
Argentina completed a dramatic comeback to earn a 2-2 draw against South Africa earlier on Friday.
In an topsy-turvy game in Dunedin, New Zealand, Banyana Banyana opened the scoring, Linda Motlhalo tapping home after 30 minutes, though the Argentina defenders thought the move in the build-up was offside. However, the video assistant referee confirmed Thembi Kgatlana, who provided the assist, was onside and the goal stood.
Seeking a first ever Women’s World Cup victory, South Africa doubled its lead midway through the second half after Kgatlana once again combined with Motlhalo to edge Banyana Banyana a step closer to a famous victory.
However, in the space of five second-half minutes, Argentina clawed its way back into the Group G match.
A stunning, dipping strike from Sophia Braun from the outside of the area gave Argentina a foothold in the game and Romina Núñez completed the turnaround with a header to make it 2-2.
Both sides have a point after two games at the tournament and South Africa has its first ever point at a Women’s World Cup.
Fellow Group G sides, Sweden and Italy, play on Saturday in their second group stage games.
In Argentina and South Africa’s final group games, they will face Sweden and Italy respectively knowing they will need to win to have any chance of making it to the knockout stages of the tournament.
China vs. Haiti
In Friday’s third game, China earned its first win of the Women’s World Cup, beating Haiti 1-0 in Adelaide, despite playing for over an hour with 10 players.
Initially China midfielder Zhang Rui was given a yellow card for a challenge on Sherly Jeudy. However, after consultation with the video assistant referee and another look at the tackle in which Zhang’s studs made contact with Jeudy’s knee, the Chinese midfielder was given a red card.
Helped by that numerical advantage Haiti thought it had taken the lead minutes before the interval when Nérilia Mondésir slotted home only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
After the break, both teams brought on their star players – Melchie Dumornay for Haiti and Wang Shuang for China – in the hope of breaking the deadlock.
Lyon midfielder Dumornay had an excellent chance to give Haiti its first ever Women’s World Cup goal in the first few minutes of the second half, but her close-range effort was somehow saved by China goalkeeper Zhu Yu.
Haiti ramped up the pressure on the China goal, but it was the team with 10 players who scored against the run of play.
After a swift counterattack, Ruthny Mathurin felled Zhang Linyan in the Haitian box, only for the offside flag to be raised for an infraction in the buildup. However, after a check from the video assistant referee, it was ruled onside, resulting in a penalty.
From the bench, Wang stepped up to coolly give China the lead and ensure it’s hopes of qualifying from Group D remain in tact.