Favourites wary of threat posed by England

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The Independent Online

Greg Ryan, the United States coach, admits the impressive performances from England at the women's World Cup so far will ensure a tough game for his side in Saturday's quarter-final.

The United States finished top of Group B after beating Nigeria 1-0 on Tuesday, meaning they will meet England after Hope Powell's side claimed second place in Group A. England, like the United States, are unbeaten in the tournament so far after securing draws with Japan and defending champions Germany before easing past Argentina 6-1 to secure their place in the knock-out stages.

The two sides last met in January in the Four Nations tournament in China, with the game finishing 1-1. The United States went on to win the event by beating China in the final 2-0, but Ryan concedes that Saturday's game with England will be difficult.

"We know that England are a very strong team," he said. "We played them in January in the Four Nations tournament and it was a very good game. They have come a long way and it is not surprising they are in the second round. I expected them to make it in their group. Their performance against Germany showed how strong they are."

The United States avoided playing Germany with both sides finishing top of their groups. But Ryan said it was never his intention to avoid meeting Germany in the quarter-finals. He added: "In terms of avoiding Germany, it doesn't matter when you play them. Our goal wasn't to avoid Germany, it was to play well and win our group."

Midfielder Kristine Lilly accepts that the US, favourites to win the World Cup, will need to put in a better performance than against Nigeria if they are to avoid an upset.

"We're happy with the result but we could have played much better," she said. "We will expect a very good game against England. We've made it to the quarter-finals so we know it is going to be tough."

Yesterday's two scheduled games were both pushed back 24 hours at the last minute as Typhoon Wipha struck the Chinese coast.

Fifa made the announcement 10 minutes after one of the games – Australia against Canada in Group C in Chengdu – was scheduled to kick off. The other match pushed back to today was China against New Zealand in Group D in the northern city of Tianjin.

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