Sports

England through to Women’s WC quarters

Valenciennes, Jun 24 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 6/24/2019 12:31:19 PM IST

England beat Cameroon 3-0 to advance to the women’s World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday in a match marked by remarkable scenes as the African side twice reacted furiously to video assistant referee (VAR) decisions that went against them, initially refusing to restart the game.

After England’s second goal by Ellen White at the end of the first half was initially ruled out for offside then, rightly, allowed via VAR, several Cameroon players remonstrated with the referee, furiously pointed to the screen in stadium which showed the replay and for a long time refused to restart the match.

VAR replays are not shown on big screens inside the stadium though “normal” replays were, some of which clearly seemed to indicate to the Cameroon players that they were being treated unjustly.

At halftime they refused to go off and join their coach, instead staying in the centre circle in a huddle.

They thought they had pulled a goal back early in the second half, only for VAR to again rule against them for a marginal offside - sparking more chaotic scenes. Players were shouting at the referee, pointing again to the big screens, substitutes were berating the fourth official and one player stood alone on the pitch jumping up and down in a furious rage.

Instead of taking firm action to force the players to restart, Chinese referee Qin Liang took an age, speaking gently to them before their coach persuaded them to kick off. The game then turned ugly with strong challenges, elbowing, an accusation of spitting and, in the final act, an horrific tackle on England’s Steph Houghton that, belatedly and again via VAR, earned Alexandra Takounda a yellow card when it looked a clear red card offence.

England took the lead in the 14th minute when Houghton drilled the ball low from an indirect free kick inside the penalty area, after Cameroon goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom collected a backpass from defender Augustine Ejangue.

White then scored her fourth goal of the tournament as she collected a clever pass from Lucy Bronze to fire home - sparking the first of the protests.

Ajara Nchout then pulled one back, only to be denied by VAR on what looked another, albeit very tight, correct decision, leaving her appearing distraught and fuming and her team mates in a huddle and refusing to restart.

A then-dominant England added a third through Alex Greenwood following a well worked corner in the 58th minute.

Alongside the VAR fallout, the game was marked by indiscipline and rash challenges throughout. 

England will need to quickly get over the less savoury aspect of the match and turn their attention to what will be a far stiffer test when they face Norway in Le Havre in the last-eight.

France squeeze into last eight

France captain Amandine Henry came to the rescue as the hosts scraped into the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals with a 2-1 win against Brazil after extra-time.

Henry found the back of the net in the 107th minute of a tense game at the Stade Oceane after Thaisa had cancelled out Valerie Gauvin’s second-half opener, with both opening goals going down to a VAR review. Les Bleues struggled to make their early domination count due to the lack of a killer instinct that prevented them wrapping up victory inside 90 minutes. The win sets up a clash with either holders USA or Spain on Friday.

France have reached the quarter-final stages of the Women’s World Cup in each of their last three appearances at the competition (2011, 2015 and 2019).

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