England 3-0 Cameroon: Lionesses into World Cup quarter-finals

England 3-0 Cameroon: Steph Houg

England 3-0 Cameroon: Lionesses into World Cup quarter-finals

England 3-0 Cameroon: Steph Houghton, Ellen White and Alex Greenwood fire Lionesses into World Cup quarter-finals in match full of controversy

  • Steph Houghton opened the scoring with a free-kick on the edge of the six-yard box following a back-pass 
  • Ellen White doubled the lead after latching on to Lucy Bronze's through ball and slotting into the corner
  • VAR gave the goal but Cameroon thought it was offside and left furious and considered walking off the field
  • Alex Greenwood netted a third goal in the second half with a low strike from the edge of the area 
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Phil Neville's recent World Cup haircut has revealed some grey strands and there will be more of them now after his England team progressed to the World Cup quarter-finals in shambolic circumstances, with VAR at their core, which left Cameroon complaining that they had been the victims of a racist conspiracy.

The suggestion was ridiculous. England's opponents, whose technical levels were desperately poor, were justifiably sent a goal behind by VAR, marginally denied a goal by the same process, and lacked the professionalism to accept the fact. 

It was regrettable to see one of their players Ajara Nchout, crying tears of frustration in the tunnel and again on the pitch, but the pantomime was deeply undermining to the credibility of the women's game. These scenes were straight out of the schoolyard. 

Steph Houghton makes the most of a free-kick inside the box to give England the lead against Cameroon on Sunday

Steph Houghton makes the most of a free-kick inside the box to give England the lead against Cameroon on Sunday

Houghton (2nd left) found the bottom corner despite all 11 of the Cameroon players being stood on the goal line

Houghton (2nd left) found the bottom corner despite all 11 of the Cameroon players being stood on the goal line 

The Manchester City defender (centre) celebrates with Jill Scott (right) and Ellen White after breaking the deadlock

The Manchester City defender (centre) celebrates with Jill Scott (right) and Ellen White after breaking the deadlock

Houghton (centre) is congratulated by her team-mates after giving the Lionesses the lead in the early stages of the game

Houghton (centre) is congratulated by her team-mates after giving the Lionesses the lead in the early stages of the game

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS 

England: Bardsley 6.5, Bronze 6, Houghton 7.5, Bright 6, Greenwood 6.5, Walsh 7, Kirby 7, Scott 7 (Staniforth 78), Parris 6.5 (Williamson 84), White 8 (Taylor 64), Duggan 7.5

Subs not used: Telford, Taylor, Stokes, McManus, Moore, Daly, Stanway, Carney, Mead, Earps

Goalscorers: Houghton 14, White 45, Greenwood 58

Cameroon: Ngo, Leuko, Ejangue (Sonkeng 64), Johnson, Awona, Nchout, Abam (Abena 68), Feudjio, Yango, Onguene, Enganamouit (Takounda 53)

Subs not used: Mambingo, Manie, Ngono Mani, Meffometou, Menen, Akaba, Ngo Ndoumbouk, Ngo Mbeleck, Ongmahan

Booked: Leuko, Takounda

Referee: Qin Liang 3

Ratings by Janine Self 

In the tunnel at half time, Cameroon's players were claiming this was racism - the perpetrator presumably being FIFA. It was to England's credit that they navigated a course through such madness. 

Keira Walsh was one of several England players to console Ajara on the field and Neville kept his cool as much as the players. Other managers would not have done.

There has been a surface politeness in the foyer these past few days when it transpired the two teams were both staying at the same Royal Hinaut Spa Hotel but the niceties did not extend to the field. 

The Indomitable Lionesses were as good as their name, looking very much like a team coached by an individual - Alain Djeuma – who is known as 'Mean Dog.'

VAR, all-seeing to the point of pedantry at this tournament, somehow did not pick up the unadulterated elbow delivered flat into Nikita Parris' face by defender Yvonne Leuko, which floored the Liverpudlian in the game's third minute. 

Toni Duggan was spat on at one stage as the African nation – second only to China for fouls committed in the group stage – made their intentions clear. 

'We have something up our sleeve,' Djeuma had said on Saturday night.

England calmly located a higher plane, finding their passing combinations in a first half in which Parris and Duggan switched flanks and Fran Kirby reached the standards she would have hoped for in the group stage. 

White shoots to double England's lead after being played through on goal by Lucy Bronze shortly before half-time

White shoots to double England's lead after being played through on goal by Lucy Bronze shortly before half-time

White finished coolly after going clean through on goal to put England in firm control of the game at the Stade du Hainaut

White finished coolly after going clean through on goal to put England in firm control of the game at the Stade du Hainaut 

The Manchester City forward shows her delight after doubling her team's lead at the end of the first half in Valenciennes

The Manchester City forward shows her delight after doubling her team's lead at the end of the first half in Valenciennes

White (centre) is congratulated by her team-mates after netting England's second goal of the game on Sunday afternoon

White (centre) is congratulated by her team-mates after netting England's second goal of the game on Sunday afternoon

The Cameroon players point to the big screen replay as they protest to referee Qin Lang that the goal was offside

The Cameroon players point to the big screen replay as they protest to referee Qin Lang that the goal was offside 

The Cameroon players were furious that the goal was allowed to stand and almost threatened to walk off the pitch

The Cameroon players were furious that the goal was allowed to stand and almost threatened to walk off the pitch

They were playing opponents whose football was often pitiful. It is an embarrassment to the women's game that a team such as this have somehow found themselves in a World Cup round of 16. 

The opening goal was the first episode straight out of the schoolyard. A pass back to the goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom by Leuko – a player way out of her depth – presaged an indirect free-kick, from the edge of the six-yard box which Steph Houghton steered adroitly past Ndom with the entire opposition lined up on the goal-line.

It was the third time in four World Cup matches that England had scored in the 14th minute, and though the anticipated Cameroon threat – pace in pursuit of the ball behind – never materialised, a second goal seemed important in the draining, muggy afternoon.

It came, with the assistance of VAR on the stroke of half-time, after Lucy Bronze's deft ball with her right outstep sent in Ellen White to score her fourth goal of the tournament. The lineswoman's decision to rule the goal out was clearly flawed and it inevitably counted.

The first of the Cameroonian protests was swift and strong, players massing in the centre circle, pointing at the replay which demonstrated categorically that the decision was correct. Parris, offside in the line of attacking players when Bronze played her reverse pass, was well out of the realm of interference with play. 

Alex Greenwood seals England's victory in the second half with a low strike from the edge of the penalty area

Alex Greenwood seals England's victory in the second half with a low strike from the edge of the penalty area 

Manchester United's Greenwood fired the ball through a crowd of players to end any hopes of a Cameroon comeback

Manchester United's Greenwood fired the ball through a crowd of players to end any hopes of a Cameroon comeback 

The United defender wheels away in celebration after scoring England's third goal of the game at the Stade du Hainaut

The United defender wheels away in celebration after scoring England's third goal of the game at the Stade du Hainaut 

The England players run over to celebrate with the rest of the squad after securing their place in the quarter-finals

The England players run over to celebrate with the rest of the squad after securing their place in the quarter-finals

The protests continued after England had left the field for the interval and clearly had a detrimental effect after the break. A kamikaze clearance by goalkeeper Karen Bardsley to Bronze proved uncontrollable, Cameroon recycled the ball down the left for Ajara Nchout to score and VAR ruled against them again. 

The fractional offside presaged another brief refusal to play on.

Alex Greenwood's loose back pass allowed substitute Alexandre Takouda in on Bardsley, who saved the defender from embarrassment. The defender then compensated just before the hour, arriving to meet a Duggan corner with a clinically struck first-time shot to put England out of reach.

By the end, the VAR officials were demonstrating evidence that they feared provoking further Cameroonian upset. Kirby was on the receiving end of a bruising challenge from Augustine Ejangue in the area – it looked like a stamp on her foot - as she set up substitute Jodie Taylor for a chance. 

This penalty review went against England. It was a poor miss by Taylor who also saw Estelle Johnson clear off the line but Neville will just be mightily relieved to put all this behind him.

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