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England advance to the knockout stages after a record-breaking group stage.

By Connor Wagner

England were able to complete their record-breaking group stage as they breezed past Northern Ireland at St Mary’s beating their close counterparts 5-0.

The host nation have been the ones to talk about so far this tournament, and they almost had the chance to go ahead just five minutes into the game. A penalty was awarded to England but was overturned by VAR after it appeared to be handed by Mead.

It took England 40 minutes to open the scoring after Northern Ireland were able to hold on. Hemp was able to release a shot on goal, which was charged down and followed up on the rebound by Kirby who swept the ball into the back of the net.

Just four minutes later, England had doubled their lead. Mead was able to pick the ball up inside the box and swiped the ball into the corner after a slight deflection off Furness.

Northern Ireland have struggled the entirety of the tournament, the newcomers have found out truly how hard the competition can be, the second half was no different. Just 3 minutes into the second half, England had sealed the game. Russo was able to meet Mead’s cross with a powerful header and make it three.

The game went from bad to worse for Northern Ireland as they conceded again five minutes later. It was Russo again who was able to get her second of the game. Toone’s pass was met beautifully by Russo, as she turned and cool slotted the ball past a deflated Burns. 4-0 and England were on for a record-breaking group stage.

The final nail in the coffin came in the 76th minute, where Burrows made the error to make matters worse for the young side. Burrows went to clear a ball but ended up slicing it over the head of Burns, and England had their fifth.

It was not the tournament that Shiels or Northern Ireland will have wanted but the team were still given a rousing reception by their fans at full-time. For England, they finish Group A with a 100 per cent record and not conceding a single goal. They will now begin preparations for their quarter-final on Wednesday evening.

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