England will face Norway in the quarter finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup after easing to a 3-0 victory over Cameroon in the round of 16.
Captain Steph Houghton opened the scoring by converting an indirect free kick on 15 minutes.
Ellen White doubled the lead in added time at the end of the first half after VAR confirmed the striker was onside when picking up Lucy Bronze’s neat through ball.
And Alex Greenwood completed the scoring, and a record knockout-stage victory, by finishing off a well-worked corner routine just before the hour mark.
- FIFA Women's World Cup
- Round of 16
- Sunday 23 June 2019
- Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
The Lionesses ultimately managed a bizarre match very well, though they know they will have to step it up a notch or two if they are to get past a talented Norway outfit in the last eight.
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There were three changes from the 2-0 victory over Japan with Greenwood, Fran Kirby and Nikita Parris coming in for Demi Stokes, Rachel Daly and Georgia Stanway.
Before the match, England assistant coach Bev Priestman said Cameroon were unorthodox and unpredictable in their approach and those words certainly rang true with less than a quarter of an hour on the clock.
The Africans were punished when referee Liang Qin deemed Augustine Ejangue to have passed the ball back to her keeper.
Toni Duggan rolled the subsequent indirect free kick to Houghton, who calmly slotted the ball into the far corner for her second last-16 goal in successive World Cups after her header in the victory over Norway four years ago.
Cameroon were outclassed for large parts of the first half but they contained England as best they could, limiting their more celebrated opponents to just two shots on goal – before White made it third time lucky.
Bronze burst infield, taking advantage of the space left in front of the Cameroon defence, and clipped a precise pass to England’s No18.
White curled home left-footed, an identical finish to her goal against Scotland in the opening group game, but she was made to wait until VAR confirmed that she was onside, leaving the Cameroon players infuriated, with some in tears.
It was White’s fourth strike of France 2019, making her just the second England player, after Kelly Smith, to score four goals at a single World Cup finals. And with five goals at World Cups in total, the 30-year-old is now the Lionesses’ joint-top scorer in the history of the competition, alongside Fara Williams.
Cameroon thought they had halved the deficit just three minutes after the break when Ajara Nchout slammed a shot into the roof of the net – but VAR came to England’s rescue, showing that Gaelle Enganamouit was offside in the build-up.
Cue more protests, tears and another long delay.
Substitute Alexandra Takounda, on for Enganamouit, then had a glorious opportunity to make amends with her very first touch when she latched onto Greenwood’s loose back pass – but Karen Bardsley came to her left back’s rescue with an excellent, point-blank save.
Minutes later, Greenwood compounded Cameroon’s misery by scoring England’s third.
Duggan pulled a low corner back to the penalty spot where Greenwood was waiting to curl a shot into the far corner and effectively end the match as a contest.
Jodie Taylor, on for White, might have added a fourth with just eight minutes remaining, only for Estelle Johnstone to get back in time to clear off the line.
Lucy Staniforth was introduced late on for her first World Cup appearance. The Birmingham City midfielder replaced Jill Scott, who, in contrast was making her 18th. No England player, male or female, has played in more World Cup matches.
There was a first tournament appearance, too, for Arsenal defender Leah Williamson.
England and Norway will go head-to-head in Le Havre on Thursday 27 June (8pm BST).
England (4-1-2-3): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 2 Lucy Bronze (Lyon), 5 Steph Houghton (Manchester City), 6 Millie Bright (Chelsea), 3 Alex Greenwood (Manchester United); 4 Keira Walsh (Manchester City); 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 10 Fran Kirby (Chelsea); 7 Nikita Parris (Lyon), 18 Ellen White (Manchester City), 11 Toni Duggan (Barcelona).
Substitutes: 9 Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign) for White 64, 23 Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City) for Scott 78, 14 Leah Williamson (Arsenal) for Parris 84.
Substitutes not used: 12 Demi Stokes (Manchester City), 13 Carly Telford (Chelsea) , 15 Abbie McManus (Manchester United), 16 Jade Moore (Reading), 17 Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), 19 Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), 20 Karen Carney (Chelsea), 21 Mary Earps (Wolfsburg), 22 Beth Mead (Arsenal).
Goals: Houghton 15, White 45+4, Greenwood 58
Head coach: Phil Neville
Referee: Liang Qin (CHN)