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England beat Cameroon to advance in Women's WC

June 25, 2019 00:00:00

England's Steph Houghton, third from left, celebrating with teammates after scoring her side's first goal during the Women's World Cup round of 16 soccer match between England and Cameroon at the Stade du Hainaut stadium in Valenciennes, France on Sunday — AP

VALENCIENNES, Jun 24 (AP): As the Cameroon players protested and play was delayed, England's staff and players watched in disbelief.

"I didn't know what was going on," England coach Phil Neville said. "Are they going to walk off?"

Twice, the English couldn't be sure if Sunday's Women's World Cup last-16 game would resume as the opposition lost its cool in the humidity of northern France and complained about decisions that went against them.

Anger erupted when video reviews on offside decisions allowed Ellen White to send England to a 2-0 lead before halftime and then denied Cameroon the goal that would have brought them within one after the break.

Referee Quin Liang struggled to maintain control, or resume the game as Cameroon players seethed.

"It's never happened to me before in a game of football," England forward Fran Kirby said. "We had to keep our heads and stay in the game."

England won 3-0 to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Norway on Thursday but Neville was subdued afterward because of the Cameroonian conduct. He also claimed there were "people fighting in the VIP area and in our hotel" which England shared with Cameroon.

"I sat through 90 minutes and felt ashamed," Neville said. "Under circumstances I've never seen on a football field before, I was completely and utterly ashamed of the behavior of the opposition.

"I didn't enjoy the game for that reason. The players didn't enjoy the game for that reason apart from the fact they are in a quarterfinal."

An unusual opening goal set the tone for a game of remarkable moments at Stade du Hainaut.

When White crossed from the left flank to Toni Duggan, Augustine Ejangue intercepted and passed back to her goalkeeper, Annette Ngo Ndom.

The indirect free kick was awarded, sparking anger among Cameroon players.

Ejangue was caught on camera spitting toward Duggan but she faced no repercussions, even with VAR available to review the incident which could have resulted in a red card.

"It's pretty clear, so unacceptable," Neville said. "That's the worst thing you can do on a pitch."

So Cameroon still had all 11 players to pack onto the goal line. It wasn't enough.

Duggan teed up Steph Houghton on the six-meter box for the shot that Ngo Ndom touched but Ejangue couldn't block on the far post.

"The first goal let us settle," Houghton said. "Then the goal by Ellen really settled us."

When it was eventually awarded.

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