England women reach sixth in Fifa world rankings

England have moved up to their highest ever position of sixth in Fifa's world rankings after their quarter-final exit at the women's World Cup in Germany.

Although they lost to France in the last eight, their 2-0 group stage win over eventual champions Japan helped them move up four places from 10th.

The top five teams remain unchanged, with beaten finalists the United States still top of the rankings.

Winners Japan are fourth behind Germany and Brazil, with Sweden fifth.

England beat both the Scandinavians and the US in friendlies before the World Cup, and their victory over Japan in the tournament itself supports the view expressed by several players and coaches that the gap in quality between teams has narrowed.

The move into the top six also provides tangible reward for England's progress under boss Hope Powell, although they failed to better their quarter-final exit in the 2007 World Cup in China.

On that occasion they were beaten 3-0 by the US.

Canada and North Korea have slipped down the rankings, dropping to eighth and 12th respectively.

After their passage to the quarter-finals, Australia have moved up to ninth.