Friday, September 29, 2023

England beat Nigeria in an agonizing penalty shootout

England won without star Lauren James, who was sent off with a red card, to beat Nigeria on penalties on Monday and advance to the quarterfinals of the women’s World Cup.

The round of 16 match ended 0-0 after regular time and extra time, giving Nigeria a chance to win a women’s World Cup knockout match for the first time in their nine appearances at the tournament.

But England, the European champions, won the match 4-2 after missing just one try.

England became favorites for the title after the elimination of the defending champions, the United States, in a duel with Sweden that was decided on penalties. However, England struggled to create chances against the Nigerian defence.

The situation worsened for the English five minutes from the end of regular time when James was sent off, after a VAR review, for violent conduct in stomping on a Nigerian defender.

Referee Melissa Borjas had initially shown her a yellow after falling on Michelle Alozie and stepping on her with her heels when she stood up. There was a rumor among the public when the play was shown on the stadium screens, and after several minutes the yellow was canceled to change it to a red one.

The British media immediately reacted by comparing it to the red received by David Beckham for kicking Argentine Diego Simeone in the 1998 World Cup in France. The red means that James will miss at least one game and maybe the rest of the tournament.

The Lionesses had to immediately change their formation when they were down to one hand, placing Chloe Kelly to play solo up front.

Alozie found herself on her own eight minutes into stoppage time but failed to control a left-footed shot, sending it wide of the post.

Veteran striker Asisat Oshoala forced a save from England goalkeeper Mary Earps when she spun and fired left-footed towards the end of extra time.

England will face Colombia or Jamaica in Sydney next Saturday in the quarter-finals.


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