ENGLAND 3, CAMEROON 0
Goals by Steph Houghton, Ellen White, and Alex Greenwood saw England’s Women beat Cameroon 3-0 in a bad tempered World Cup match.Embed from Getty Images
VAR was once again in the centre of events, not intervening in what should have been a red card for Yvonne Leuko before correctly overturning an offside call against White after she scored her fourth goal of the tournament.
VAR also ruled out a goal by Ajara Nchout before Alex Greenwood swept in England’s third from a corner – the first time England had scored three in a Women’s World Cup knockout game.
England showed plenty of vulnerability in another average second half performance that would be exploited by better sides – Takounda Engolo missed two chances after coming on as a substitute but should have been sent off herself for a spiteful last minute challenge on Steph Houghton.
But they made it through a tough test to qualify for the quarter finals to face Norway – recording their third clean sheet in four games.
England boss Phil Neville made three changes to the side that beat Japan for the Round of 16 knockout game against Cameroon – the lowest side left in the competition.
Greenwood came in for Demi Stokes, Fran Kirby replaced Georgia Stanway, while Nikita Parris returned to the side for Rachel Daly.
Fit-again Toni Duggan kept her place in the side, keeping Beth Mead on the bench, while Jill Scott earned her 18th World Cup finals cap for England – beating Peter Shilton.
Cameroon came into the game with a reputation for physicality and Parris was on the receiving end of some rough treatment when she appeared to be elbowed in the face by Yvonne Leuko who was only booked when a red card seemed to be a more just punishment but there was no VAR review.
Duggan also complained of being spat on by a Cameroon player as they tried to engage England in a battle that boiled over at times without adequate control by referee Liang Qin.
Undeterred, England continued to push and won an indirect free kick on the 6 yard line after 12 minutes when Arielle Ejangue passed back to her keeper.
Steph Houghton blasted the ball low and into the bottom right corner after Duggan touched the ball into her path to set England on their way.
Duggan curled a lofted ball wide as England tried to build on their advantage in the Valenciennes heat.
Cameroon briefly tested England during the first half when they became sloppy but the African side were wasteful with their final ball.
VAR hands England a second goal after Ellen White scores
Ellen White doubled England’s advantage at the end of first half injury time after Lucy Bronze’s ball to her was comprehensively finished from 15 yards out – an offside call was quickly overturned by VAR.
It was her fourth goal of the tournament, but the angry Cameroon players had to have the decision explained to them before they would restart – the game was quickly getting out of control.
Three minutes into the second half the game came back to life in an unsavoury way.
Karen Bardley’s rushed clearance under pressure saw the ball come back in, slack defending allowed the cross to come in and Ajara Nchout converted the cross.
VAR ruled out the goal for a marginal offside in the build-up, further enraging the Cameroon staff, players and fans.
Takounda Engolo’s first touch almost brought Cameroon a goal after a poor back pass by Alex Greenwood allowed the substitute a shot on goal but Bardsley was out quickly to smother the chance.
Greenwood had to clear hurriedly as Cameroon hit the ball long into the area and left Bardsley stranded.
Alex Greenwood’s third for England seals the win
England hit their third with Duggan’s corner converted by Greenwood who swept it in from 11 yards out.
England might have had four with just over 20 minutes to go when Annette Ngo Ndom spilled the ball and Jodie Taylor tried to set up Fran Kirby who was crowded out as she tried to find space to shoot.
Taylor shot wide after Parris and Kirby set her up on a quick break, but VAR intervened again after Kirby was trodden on by Ysis Songkeng after releasing the ball to Taylor – deciding there was no penalty.
Estelle Johnson cleared off the line after Taylor had clipped the ball goal wards after rounding Ngo Ndom.
In the end, then, Neville could relax and send on the two outfield players who hadn’t had any game time yet in the tournament – Lucy Staniforth and Leah Williamson – as England saw out the game comfortably.
Takounda recklessly raked Houghton’s ankle in the final minute of added time as frustrations boiled over – and VAR was summoned once again with the substitute once again only going in the referee’s book with a yellow card.
MATCH STATS – England 3, Cameroon 0
England Women: Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Greenwood, Walsh, Scott (Staniforth 78), Parris (Williamson 84), Kirby, Duggan, White (Taylor 64)
England Women subs not used: Telford, Earps, Stokes, McManus, Moore, Daly, Stanway, Carney, Mead
Goals: Houghton 14, White 45+4, Greenwood 58
Cameroon Women: Ngo Ndom, Leuko, Ejangue (Songkeng 64), Johnson, Awona, Nchout, Abam (Abena 68), Feudjio, Yango, Onguene, Enganamouit (Takounda Engolo 53)
Cameroon Women Subs not used: Mambingo, Ongmahan, Manie, Ngono Mani, Meffometou, Meyong Menene, Akaba, Ngo Ndoumbouk, Mbeleck
Booked: Leuko 4, Takounda 90+10
Referee: Liang Qin