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England v Nigeria: Lionesses through to FIFA Women's World Cup quarter-final after victory on penalties – Sky News

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The tense match, which resulted in penalties, saw England star Lauren James sent off with a red card after she stamped on the back of her fallen opponent.
Monday 7 August 2023 17:59, UK
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The Lionesses have secured a place in the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup after a dramatic penalty shootout win over Nigeria.
England were reduced to 10 players with three minutes of normal time remaining after Lauren James stamped on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie in what Gary Lineker called “Beckhamesque moment of madness”.
But the Lionesses held on in extra-time to force penalties, with Chloe Kelly, Beth England, Rachel Daly and Alex Greenwood finding the target to secure a 4-2 shootout win.
England will now face either Jamaica or Colombia in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
Speaking after the match, Kelly, who scored the winning penalty, said: “We dig deep and we believe in our abilities and first and foremost we believe in what we’re being told to do.”
Former England international Lee Hendrie said the match was “not a classic performance” from England, adding that Nigeria were “excellent all over the pitch”.
He told Sky Sports News: “Brilliant penalties in the end from England and they are through to the quarter-finals. They have had to dig deep, it has not been a classic performance, you have to feel for Nigeria, who were excellent all over the pitch, they had a game plan and worked all over the pitch.
“Then it was all about England going down to 10 players and you feel can they just get through this period and have the belief to get through that, and they did.”
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The Prince and Princess of Wales praised the team’s “hard-fought” victory, while Downing Street said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wished them the “best of luck” for the next round.
Earlier in the match England could have had a penalty after Rachel Daly went down under contact from a Nigeria defender in the first half. But after looking at VAR the referee overturned her decision.
News correspondent
In the end it came down to penalties, pushing the crowd watching in a venue inside Stamford Bridge close to the edge, after a game filled with heart-stopping moments.
Fans turned up bright and early, and despite the Monday morning kick-off, the cheers came in loud and strong in the final moments of the game.
When the second penalty hit the back of the net – England’s first goal – the crowd made up of men, women and children of all ages went wild.
By the time the second England was penalty scored there was a feeling that the Lionesses were going to come out on top – a huge relief after a game filled with tension.
“It was a bit close, a bit too close for comfort, I think we defended just about well enough. I feel so amazing we’ve gone through but I feel like we’ve squeezed through a bit tight at the end,” said Cally Souter, a football player herself, watching with a friend.
And for many here the packed stadium in Australia was a sign that women’s sport is starting to get the attention it deserves.
“A lot of us here we’re club fans as well, we support football teams in the Women’s Super League, so we’re seeing our club heroes delivering in the World Cup. We’re seeing full stadiums on a club level and to see it on the international level is amazing,” said Jenny Symmons, wearing a Chelsea shirt.
Her friend Anna Philipps took a day off work to be able to see the game live. “It’s amazing. A few years ago this would’ve never happened, Chelsea hosting fans at 8.30 on a Monday morning,” she told Sky News.
“I’ve been following the game a long time and it’s good to see that people are taking notice,” she added. Someone who knows exactly how the Lionesses felt walking out on the pitch is Carly Telford, former England international.
“It’s unbelievable. You’re in the tunnel and the moment you walk down that tunnel you hear the roar of everyone you kind of can’t help but smile, I remember trying not to because you’re trying to keep a game face on,” she told Sky News.
The former goalkeeper says that the women’s game has made huge strides in a short space of time, and she thinks it’s only going to get better.
“I’m from that era when there were maybe five or 10 people watching the game in a really dingy horrible pitch and then you get to walk out in a World Cup semi-final against USA in front of 50,000 people and you can’t help thinking – yeah this is what I’m meant to do and this is what it was meant to be like. Some of these girls won’t know any different it’s what they do every single week and what they do every single major competition, it’s how it should be,” she said.
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England struggled to match Nigeria’s physical gameplan at times and their task was made harder when James’s moment of petulance was punished by the referee.
James will now miss the quarter-finals and could face a longer suspension.
But England held their nerve in the shootout and their dream of completing a European Championship and World Cup double remains alive.
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