England needed to survive a nervy penalty shootout against Nigeria on Monday as they scraped into the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup after playing the whole of extra-time with only 10 players. England playmaker Lauren James, the team’s two-goal hero in the 6-1 win against China, received a red card for violent conduct after a needless stamp on Michelle Alozie at the 87th-minute mark, leaving the team one player shot in the extra-time.
Nigeria had the better of the chances, but the European Champions held out for a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes and prevailed 4-2 in the shootout in front of almost 50,000 spectators in Brisbane.
James will be suspended when the Lionesses face Colombia or Jamaica on Saturday for a place in the semi-finals as they aim to add the World Cup to their European crown.
Nigeria manager Randy Waldrum said his side had shown their inexperience after James went off.
Lauren James is shown a red card. pic.twitter.com/m9RywPHwPi
— Caity Foord (@caitcaitfoord) August 7, 2023
“We created more chances against 11 players than we did against 10,” Waldrum said. “It goes down to experience, I don’t think our players handled it very well. But credit to England, they were very well organised and prepared for it.”
England got off to a terrible start in the penalty shootout when Georgia Stanway fired wide, but Desire Oparanozie could not take advantage and missed in identical fashion.
Beth England made no mistake, but Alozie ballooned her effort high over the bar to give England an advantage they never surrendered, sealing victory when Chloe Kelly — who scored the winner in the final of the European Championship a year ago — calmly converted.
England coach Sarina Wiegman said her team had practised and were prepared for the shootout.
“We have trained for penalties, we had a plan worked out,” she said.
“But at the end it’s the players who make the decisions as to who wants to take the penalties.
“We know how to do it, and we have the experience.”
With AFP inputs
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