SYDNEY: England stepped within sight of the round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup but suffered a major upset with what appeared a serious first-half knee injury to midfield anchor Keira Walsh.

Progress depends on England now avoiding defeat in their concluding Group D tie against China who defeated Haiti 1-0.

Earlier, in Group G, South Africa and Argentina both maintained faint hopes of moving forward with a 2-2 draw in Dunedin.

England, unimpressive in their opening Group D victory over Haiti, seized early control against Denmark in the Sydney Football Stadium with a fine goal from Lauren James, set up by Rachel Daly. Both had been brought in to the starting line-up by Sarina Wiegman and repaid the coach’s faith.

James had other chances in the first half while Lucy Bronze headed narrowly over the bar. The injury to Walsh disrupted England’s rhythm and Denmark’s Rikke Madsen, Janni Thomsen and Pernille Harder should have punished sloppy defending.

In the second half Danish substitute Amalie Vangsgaard headed against a post but England survived to maintain their 100pc record.

Wiegman said after the match that it was not immediately possible to assess the severity of the injury to Walsh. The Barcelona star, subject of a women’s world record transfer last year, had to be carried off on a stretcher.

England had already gone into the tournament without three other knee injury victims in captain Leah Williamson, forward Beth Mead and Fran Kirby.

In Dunedin Argentina scored twice within five second-half minutes to salvage a 2-2 draw against South Africa who had pushed ahead with goals from Glasgow City winger Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana.

Their dreams of a first Women’s World Cup victory were spoiled later by Sophia Braun and substitute Romina Nunez.