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England 3 (Houghton 15, White 45, Greenwood 58)
England cruised into the quarter finals of the World Cup with a comfortable victory over Cameroon at the Stade du Hainaut.
However the game is likely to be remembered for the antics of the Cameroon players during the match, in particular their reactions to two VAR decisions either side of half time when they seemed unwilling to carry on playing.
The game did start quietly but England were to get the early goal they craved, after Cameroon goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom picked up the ball as it was played back to her by Augustine Ejangue, following a cross by Nikita Parris. A free kick was awarded on the edge of the six yard area and it was touched aside by Toni Duggan for Steph Houghton, Ngo Ndom got a touch to her shot but it had too much power and found the inside of the far post.
Toni Duggan curled a shot wide from the edge of the area shortly afterwards but England were at times, once again, sloppy in possession at the back and gave the ball away cheaply at times.
As the first half went into injury time, Lucy Bronze carried the ball forward and slipped a good ball through to Ellen White, who fired in from the edge of the area. The offside flag was raised against the England striker but VAR - correctly - overruled the decision and the goal was allowed to stand.
The reaction of the Cameroon players was astonishing as they continued their protests and then gathered in a huddle whilst refusing to restart play. The referee did nothing to deal with the situation but they did eventually kick off again and the half time whistle blew moments later.
The mood of the Cameroon players was not lifted in the opening minutes of the second half as Ajara Nchout produced an emphatic finish from a cut back by Gabrielle Onguene but VAR ruled that Onguene was marginally offside beforehand and the goal was disallowed. Once again, they vehemently protested the decision and there was another long stoppage before the game was able to resume.
Cameroon had another great chance to pull one back from a dreadful back pass by Alex Greenwood, who passed it straight to Alexandra Takounda Engolo, but Karen Bardsley came to the rescue with a vital block.
That mistake was an indication that the England players were in danger of losing concentration but Greenwood was to make amends five minutes later as she swept home a corner by Duggan from close range to put England three ahead.
White almost made it four from a chipped pass by Fran Kirby but her attempted lob drifted just over. The striker was then withdrawn for Jodie Taylor who latched on to a fumble by Ngo Ndom and tried to set up Kirby but she was crowded out by the Cameroon defence.
Taylor got in behind the defence again and dinked her shot over the advancing keeper but it just lacked enough power and Estelle Johnson did well to get back and clear off the line.
Takoundo Engolo missed another good opportunity later on, whilst Taylor shanked a shot a goal late on but this led to another VAR review on what could have been a foul on Kirby in the area, although this time the referee appeared to opt to be discreet and award a goal kick.
There was a huge scare for England at the end of the game when Houghton was on the receiving end of a dreadful challenge by Takoundo Engolo, who raked her studs down her leg. Not for the first time during the match, the referee ducked out of showing a red card and only brandished yellow.
England had controlled the game without ever needing to be at their best and never looked in any doubt of losing the game. They will know that tougher tests await than this one, not least the quarter final tie with Norway on Thursday.
England: Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Keira Walsh, Steph Houghton, Millie Bright, Nikita Parris (sub Leah Williamson 83mins), Jill Scott (sub Lucy Staniforth 77mins), Ellen White (sub Jodie Taylor 64mins), Fran Kirby, Toni Duggan.
Cameroon: Annette Ngo Ndom, Michaela Abam (sub Ninon Abena 67mins), Ajara Nchout, Yvonne Leuko, Augustine Ejangue (sub Ysis Sonkeng 64mins), Estelle Johnson, Gabrielle Onguene, Raissa Feudijo, Gaelle Enganamouit (sub Alexandra Takounda Engolo 53mins), Jeannette Yango, Aurelle Awona.
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