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England bury Argentina, qualify for quarter-finals

17 September 2007 16:15

CHENGDU, China (AFP) - Kelly Smith scored twice to send England into the quarter-finals of the women's World Cup here Monday with a 6-1 destruction of already eliminated Argentina.

The star striker pounced in the 64th and the 77th minute to bring her World Cup tally to four goals in three games in Group A and book England a place in the last eight for the first time since 1995.

Earlier, Germany beat Japan 2-0 to finish top of the group and England, second, are scheduled to meet the winner of Group B which will be decided in Tuesday's matches and is likely to be either North Korea or the United States.

The 28-year-old Smith, who scored two late goals for England against Japan on Tuesday, brought her goal tally to 25 in 64 games in the Argentina tie.

"Everybody is ecstatic," she said afterwards. "To score six on the night is fantastic.

"We are all confident that we can get a result in the quarter-finals whoever we have (to play)."

It was a nightmare end to the tournament for Argentina.

Captain Eva Gonzalez scored an own goal and the team gave away two penalties and had a player sent off -- the first red card of the championships -- as they finished with three straight defeats and just one goal scored to 18 conceded.

England got off to the best start when Gonzalez attempted to clear a Casey Stoney cross after nine minutes but guided it into her own net instead.

After 60 minutes she made amends by scoring the only goal of the tournament for Argentina with a stunningly struck free kick that proved to be small compensation for a huge defeat.

Following the Gonzalez own goal, Jill Scott scored a minute later with a long-range effort to put England a well-deserved 2-0 up at half time.

Fara Williams converted a penalty on 50 minutes after Perez was sent off and second-half substitute Vicky Exley added another from the spot after 90 minutes.

It was England's first win after drawing with world champions Germany and Japan in their first two games.

"It was a job well done. The girls were magnificent tonight and we are really pleased," said England coach Hope Powell

"It was our target to get out of the group. We have achieved that. We now move on to the next stage."

Powell was in the side as a player when England competed in the 1995 World Cup, their only previous appearance in the finals, when they also reached the last eight only to be knocked out by Germany.

Argentina coach Carlos Borrello admitted his team were out of their depth at the tournament.

"It is obvious to me that we need to get more experience at this level. We cannot compete with the European teams or the North American ones, but with every game we are learning about football at this level," he said.

"We know we have a long way to go to reach the top level of women's football, but we will keep on trying."

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