England recorded a 3-0 victory over Cameroon on Monday morning (AEST), clinching a place in the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals after a game punctuated by the anger of the African team over VAR decisions and accusations of dirty behaviour.
At times during the incident-filled game in northeast France, the Cameroon players looked like they might refuse to resume playing as they protested against decisions while referee Quin Liang struggled to maintain control.
Steph Houghton scored the first goal for England and Ellen White added to the lead in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time with a goal only awarded after an off-side call was overruled on a video review. Cameroon players were seething again when they were denied a goal at the start of the second half when another off-side VAR review went against the lowest-ranked team remaining in the competition.
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.
That ugly affair came after a crude elbow to the jaw of an England player earlier in the first half that could also have resulted in a send-off.
After the match, England coach Phil Neville said he was “completely and utterly ashamed” of Cameroon’s behaviour.
“I sat through 90 minutes of football and felt ashamed. I was proud of performances, under circumstances I’ve never seen before,” Neville said.
“I’m completely and utterly ashamed of the opposition.
“I didn’t enjoy the game. My players didn’t enjoy the game, apart from getting to the quarter-finals
“I’m afraid today we saw, I thought, a behaviour that’s unacceptable on a football field.
“It didn’t feel like football. That wasn’t football, in terms of the behaviour I want to see from footballers.
“This goes out worldwide. That’s not what we want young girls to watch.”
Steph Houghton is fouled in front of England coach Phil Neville. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images) Source: Getty Images
During first-half stoppage time, right back Lucy Bronze cut into a central position and slipped the ball through to White, who put the ball in the net. The flag went up for off-side, but the celebrations were only delayed. White was given her fourth goal in three matches at this tournament.
When stadium big screens showed the off-side decision, Cameroon players were pointing up, apparently bemused by the call to allow the goal. As Cameroon’s players remained in a huddle protesting, the referee delayed the restart. The game eventually resumed, briefly, before halftime.
As the England players headed down the tunnel, their opponents remained on the field to complain to the officials and then to huddle together.
The anger lingered into the second half.
Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene confronts referee Qin Liang. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) Source: Getty Images
Cameroon thought it had scored inside four minutes of the restart when Ajara Nchout put the ball in the net. Again, celebrations began before she was stopped in her tracks for a VAR review.
Gabrielle Onguene was determined to be in an off-side position when Nchout received the ball. Denied a goal, Nchout held her head in her hands and cried. The playmaker had to be comforted by manager Alain Djeumfa. A
gain, the Cameroonians looked like they didn’t want to resume playing. England scored a third time in the 58th minute.
A low corner was sent by Dugan to the onrushing Greenwood, who was left unmarked to sweep the ball into the net minutes after her sloppy back pass nearly gave Cameroon a goal.