Lauren James scored the only goal in England's win over Denmark in Sydney ©Getty Images

European champions England took themselves to the brink of last-16 qualification after a 1-0 victory over Denmark in the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Lauren James starred in the Group D clash at the Sydney Football Stadium and provided what turned out to be the winning goal after just six minutes.

She found the back of the net with a side-footed strike from outside of the penalty area in what was her first World Cup start.

However, a knee injury to Barcelona midfielder Keira Walsh marred the win as she was taken off by a stretcher after 38 minutes.

"It's all about winning games of course. We also want to play well," said England manager Sarina Wiegman.

"But we never take anything for granted.

"We have to work really hard every time we play any game.

"We are really happy with the 1-0 in the end and that's what counts."

Elsewhere in Group D, China beat Haiti also by a 1-0 scoreline to earn their first victory of the tournament.

Wang Shuang's 74th-minute penalty made the difference for the Chinese who claimed all three points despite playing more than an hour with only 10 players.

Midfielder Zhang Rui was sent off after 29 minutes for a knee-high challenge on Haiti's Sherly Jeudy.

The result puts them level on three points with Denmark heading into the final group fixture.

South Africa came close to a first-ever World Cup win in a thrilling encounter at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

South Africa and Argentina played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin ©Getty Images
South Africa and Argentina played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin ©Getty Images

They were leading 2-0 courtesy of goals from Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana but a five-minute double salvo through Sophie Braun and Romina Núñez denied a famous victory.

"I told them to play, have fun, dribble and play their best games," said Argentine manager German Portanova.

"That's why we are here.

"They are wonderful players." 

Group A is set to be decided tomorrow as Switzerland take on New Zealand and Norway play the Philippines.

The second round of Group H fixtures is also scheduled with South Korea playing Morocco and Germany facing Colombia.