ADELAIDE: European champions England hit their stride finally at the FIFA Women’s World Cup by sweeping aside China 6-1 in Adelaide to march into the round of 16 as Group D winners.

England, who claimed narrow victories previously over Haiti and Denmark, face Nigeria on Monday in Brisbane for the right of entry to the quarter-finals.

Alessia Russo provided a perfect start for the European champions with an opening goal in the fourth minute and Lauren Hemp and Lauren James added two more to secure an undisputable three-goal lead at the interval.

China, on their way out at the group stage for the first time in eight appearances at the finals, pulled one back early in the second half with a Wang Shuang penalty awarded controversially, and after a lengthy VAR check, for handball against Lucy Bronze.

The Asian champions’ revival was soon quashed by further England goals from James, substitute Chloe Kelly and Rachel Daly. Chelsea forward James, 21, also provided three assists as well as her two goals.

Denmark took second spot in the group after a 2-0 win over Haiti on goals from Pernille Harder (penalty) and Sanne Troelsgaard in stoppage time. The Danes will face cohosts Australia, the Group B winners, in Sydney on Monday.

United States, the defending champions, made harder work of progressing than had been expected from Group E.

In the end it was only a goalless draw against finals newcomers Portugal which sent them into the round of 16 as runners-up to Netherlands, who thrashed Vietnam 7-0. Esmee Brugts and Jill Roord each scored twice.