In their first match of the tournament Team GB took on Chile in Sapporo in a late afternoon kick-off.
Head coach Hege Riise named a starting eleven largely formed of Manchester City players as only Kim Little, Rachel Daly and Millie Bright lined-up from Arsenal, Houston Dash and Chelsea respectively.
England and Manchester City skipper Steph Houghton donned the armband ahead of other named captains Kim Little and Sophie Ingle. Rachel Daly was selected to fill as a left back over Demi Stokes who remained on the bench for this fixture.
Georgia Stanway kicked off play in the Sapporo Dome and straight off the bat Team GB set out to dominate the South American side. Within minutes Team GB had dizzied Chile with a set of fast-paced one-twos and intricate passages in and around the area.
The first goal of the game came in just ten minutes through rapid build-up play between Stanway, Little and Lauren Hemp. Stanway fed the ball in towards striker Ellen White who took the chance but was ultimately ruled offside.
As the score remained level, Team GB found themselves in a little hot water at the quarter of the hour mark as Chile lurked in the box whilst the Brits failed to clear. Danger averted, Team GB put themselves back on the front foot and notched their first goal of the tournament on the scoresheet mere minutes later.
Hemp, as she would demonstrate throughout, made light work of Chile’s right-hand side, skipping past Nayadet Lopez Opaza with ease. Hemp pulled the pass back to Stanway who played in Lucy Bronze on the overlap. Bronze dinked in a lofty ball to Hemp who managed to get a head to it before White finished off, sinking the loose ball past Chilean captain Christiane Endler.
With their confidence brimming Team GB continued to threaten throughout the first half, keeping possession and dictating flow. However, after a few well timed chances, the half concluded with the score remaining 1-0.
No substitutions were made as the second half began, however Team GB’s wide players switched, with Hemp now operating the right hand side and Stanway, the left.
Once again, Team GB’s midfield trio of Little, Caroline Weir and Keira Walsh directed a number of clever plays early in the half. Chile, however, begin to respond to Team GB’s dominance with a few smart movements of their own, yet no real threat was ever sensed.
Back in the driving seat, Team GB bid for goal again after Stanway received a beautifully placed ball from Walsh. Taking a touch, Stanway hit the shot which was stopped, surprisingly sloppily, by Endler only to fall as far as White, who was challenged as she stretched for the ball. After a lengthy VAR check, White was again ruled offside, declaring both the penalty and Team GB’s already organised corner, void.
Team GB’s second goal came with just over ten minutes to go. Birthed from a Daly throw-in, Team GB held possession on the edge of the area before Bronze crossed in her second assisting ball of the match. Bronze’s delivery was met by White who took the ball on the half volley to earn herself a brace.
Wrapping up in a similar fashion as it started, Team GB remained dominant until the final whistle, ending their first match with a two-nil win.
A pleasing performance from Team GB and a positive position to find themselves in as group stage games could prove to become progressively more difficult from here on in. Kim Little was arguably the most influential player on the pitch with much build-up play stemming from her constant clever movement and sophisticated passing. Little should also be noted for her ability to play in wide players and her partnerships with both Lauren Hemp and Georgia Stanway meant a lot of joy was derived from the wing.
Speaking after the match, Hege Riise pinpointed Hemp as one of Team GB’s most crucial performers, “I am happy with the team performance and there will always be players that make something special. Today, on the left, Lauren did that. One v one all the time to get in and serve in the box.”
Next up, Team GB will play hosts Japan on Saturday 24th July at 11:30 am (BST).
Team GB: Ellie Roebuck, Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton (c), Millie Bright, Rachel Daly, Kim Little (90+1’), Keira Walsh (68’), Caroline Weir (89’), Georgia Stanway, Ellen White, Lauren Hemp (67’)
Substitutes: Carly Telford (GK), Demi Stokes, Leah Williamson, Sophie Ingle (68’), Jill Scott (89’), Ella Toone (90+1’), Nikita Parris (67’)
Goals: White (18’, 73’)
Chile: Christiane Endler (c), Carla Guerrero, Francisca Lara, Nayadet Lopez Opaza (80’), Karen Araya, Maria Jose Urrutia, Yanara Aedo (77’), Yessenia Lopez (70’), Daniela Pardo, Daniela Zamora, Camila Saez
Substitutes: Natalia Campos (GK), Fernanda Ramirez, Yenny Acuna (77’), Rosario Balmaceda (80’), Javiera Toro, Javiera Grez, M. Francisca Mardones (70’)