WWC: England edge Nigeria on penalties after James red


Ten-player England progressed to their fifth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-finals in dramatic fashion, beating Nigeria 4-2 on penalties after a breathless 0-0 draw in Brisbane.

Despite controlling possession from the outset, England struggled to find a route through a resolute Nigeria side that went unbeaten in the WWC group stages for the first time in their history.

The Super Falcons grew in confidence and created a spate of chances of their own when Michelle Alozie’s header was cleared off the line by Alessia Russo, before Ashleigh Plumptre nearly ended Nigeria’s four-match goalless run against European opponents with a ferocious strike that cannoned off the crossbar.


But, an England side that had struck in 16 consecutive WWC matches began to look dangerous as Russo and Rachel Daly forced Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie into action.

Momentum started to build and the Lionesses were awarded a penalty before HT when Rasheedat Ajibade clattered into Daly, only for referee Melissa Borjas to overturn the spot-kick following a VAR consultation.


The Lionesses couldn’t accelerate into the second period, and Nigeria continued to display their attacking threat as Uchenna Kanu’s looping header beat Mary Earps and clipped the crossbar.

An attritional period ensued and both sides held firm, until Daly and Russo’s close-range headers almost gave England the breakthrough, but Nnadozie repelled both attempts.

A frustrating evening for England got even worse In the closing stages, as top scorer Lauren James was sent off for an off-the-ball stamp on Michelle Alozie, sending the Lionesses into ET with a one player deficit.

Inevitably, Nigeria took control in ET and Alozie found space in the area but scuffed her shot wide from six yards. Chances remained few and far between as the Lionesses seemed content to take the game to penalties.

The tension during the shootout was evident as Georgia Stanway and Desire Oparanozie fired wide with each team’s opening strike. England were given a lifeline when Alozie blazed over, which allowed the Lionesses to race ahead and Chloe Kelly struck the decisive penalty to send her side into the final eight.



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