Can Lionesses roar into the World Cup semi-finals?

Can Lionesses roar into World Cup semi-finals? England set up clash against either Colombia or Jamaica in next round after beating Nigeria 4-2 on penalties despite Lauren James red card

  • See our live blog on the England’s clash against Nigeria by clicking here 

England has reached the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup after narrowly surviving a major scare to defeat a relentless Nigeria on penalties. 

The European champions had to cling on for 30 minutes of extra time after Lauren James was sent off for stamping on the back of Nigeria player Michelle Alozie in the 87th minute during a ‘moment of madness’. 

The Lionesses had already been under intense pressure from the African nation – ranked 40th in the world – who had outclassed the squad for much of their bruising encounter in Brisbane, Australia. 

England hung on, though, taking the game to a nail-biting penalty shoot-out,  with substitute Chloe Kelly – the match winner of Euro 2022 final last year – delivering victory once more with an emphatic strike, giving England a 4-2 win on penalties. 

Sarina Wiegman’s team now has just a few days to regroup and prepare for Saturday’s quarter-final – with the squad knowing they are just two games away from reaching their first World Cup final. 

But first the Lionesses will have to go through either Colombia or Jamaica – who are playing their round 16 game on Tuesday. 

The Lionesses roared their way into the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals after a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory against Nigeria 

The side will now face either Jamaica or Columbia in Saturday’s clash (pictured is Jamaican players as they held Brazil to a goalless draw last week to knock the eighth ranked side out)

Columbia topped Group H with wins over South Korea and Germany. They now go into their clash with Jamaica as the favourites 

Colombia are odds on favourites to win, having topped Group H with wins over South Korea and Germany, which was enough to see them seal top spot despite losing to Morocco in their final group game.

Meanwhile, Jamaica finished second in Group F, beating Panama and notching up hugely impressive draws with France and Brazil.

The South Americans are ranked 25th in the FIFA World Rankings, while their Caribbean counterparts are 43rd.

Colombia are playing in their third Women’s World Cup having previously featured in the competition in 2011 and 2015.

Jamaica are contesting their second tournament having made their maiden appearance on the global stage four years ago.

The quarter-final between England and their opponent will kick-off on Saturday morning at 11.30am UK time (8.30pm Sydney local time). 

Looking further ahead, the Lionesses, if victorious in their quarter-final, could then play a semi-final against either Australia, France or Morocco. 

But England will need to do better than their match against Nigeria. Despite winning, the squad came off second best for much of the match, as the African side appeared to dominate.  

The Lionesses had few real chances, with striker James showing her frustration in the 87th minute stamping on Nigerian Michelle Alozie in a ‘moment of madness’, which initially earned her a yellow card. 

England’s Chloe Kelly and Alex Greenwood celebrate victory following a penalty shoot-out, which saw Kelly scoring the goal that sent the Lionesses through

Substitute hero Chloe Kelly (pictured in the number 18 shirt) once again scored the crucial match-winning goal for England

The Lionesses went down to ten women after Lauren James was given a yellow card for stamping on Michelle Alozie – with the card later upgraded to a red 

James with the walk of shame after being red carded for stamping on a Nigerian player 

Then, in fresh heartbreak for fans, the 21-year-old’s card was upgraded to a red, leaving England with just ten women as the game went into extra time – in a move likened to David Beckham’s foul which sent England crashing out of the 1998 World Cup.  It means James could now face a ban for the rest of this year’s tournament. 

England managed to stave off a relentless Nigerian attack during a nail-biting 30 minutes of extra time to make it through to the penalty shootout. 

READ MORE: England penalty hero Chloe Kelly shouts ‘f****** get in!’ during wild celebrations after Lionesses’ penalty victory over Nigeria – as she is hailed a ‘class act’ for telling camera man to move away while she consoled losing goalkeeper

After a nervy start, with Georgia Stanway firing her shot wide and Nigeria’s Desire Oparanozie also failing to find the net, it was the Lionesses who were first to score, before claiming victory – and a clash against either Colombia or Jamaica in the final eight. 

The match fell on Kelly to emphatically smash home the winning penalty, following on from her extra-time winner in the Euros final last summer and the decisive spot-kick in a shoot-out win over Brazil in the Finalissima in April.

When asked again about scoring yet another match-winner, Chloe insisted it was not about her as she championed the squad.  

‘This team is special, we did it in the Euros, we did it in the Finalissima, we are here again tonight and doing it; we keep pushing forward and there is more to come from this special team,’ she told BBC Sport. 

‘It is amazing, anything that is thrown at us, we show what we are capable of.

‘We dig deep, we dig deep as a group, we believe in our ability; first and foremost we believe in what we are being told to do.’

Asked about what was going through her head as she walked up to take her penalty, the Manchester City forward replied: ‘For me, it is “I’m going to score” – that is how I look at it, once I win that mental battle we are good.

‘We have been practising [penalties] a lot actually and it has been working.’

It was the dream end to a nightmare game for the Lionesses, who had been dominated for much of the clash against the African side. 

It was a dream ending to a nightmare game, which saw England being dominated by Nigeria 

England celebrate after reaching the quarter finals of the Women’s World Cup 

The win sent England fans wild, with scores across the country watching the match in pubs. Pictured: Supporters celebrating at Boxpark Wembley

The Lionesses faced stiff opposition from the African side, ranked 40th in the world (pictured are England fans at Boxpark Wembley)

Millie Bright and Esme Morgan of England celebrate the team’s victory through the penalty shoot-out

England’s Chloe Kelly, left, embraces her fellow team mate after scoring the last goal during a penalty shootout 

England fans, who earlier had been holding their heads in their hands after James was sent off the pitch, went wild, celebrating the win in pubs and at viewing events across the UK. 

And there was praise from royalty, too, as the Prince and Princess of Wales congratulated the Lionesses on their ‘hard-fought’ victory.

A post on William and Kate’s official Twitter account said: ‘Well done @Lionesses!

‘It was hard-fought but now we’re on to the quarter-finals. Good luck.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also praised the victorious England team, tweeting: ‘That was tense! ‘Congratulations to the @Lionesses on a hard-fought win. ‘Bring on the quarter finals.’

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan lauded the Lionesses for their ‘dramatic’ win and offered ‘commiserations to Nigeria’.

He tweeted: ‘Yesss! Go @Lionesses. We’re through to the quarter finals and what a dramatic finish. Commiserations to Nigeria who played a brilliant game.’

Rachel Daly of England shoots the ball past the Nigerian keeper as she takes the Lioness’s third penalty

Nigerian players were left distraught at their defeat. They had hoped to make it through to the last eight of the competition for the first time

England were praised by fans and royals for their victory, which was described as a ‘hard-fought’ one by the Prince and Princess of Wales 

But the Lionesses also came under fire for a sub-par performance, with former England ace Gary Lineker criticising James for losing her cool and getting sent off. 

‘The @Lionesses down to 10 as Lauren James has a Beckhamesque moment of madness,’ he tweeted.

Another person tweeted: ‘Wow, from hero to zero for Lauren James. What a silly thing to do at 0-0 in a World Cup knockout game. Flashbacks of Beckham & Rooney.’

And a third added: ‘I love Lauren James but what a stupid thing to do at this level.’

Monday’s match started with the return of midfielder Keira Walsh, who was carried off the pitch on a stretcher in England’s 1-0 group stage victory against Denmark. She played 120 minutes of today’s dramatic contest. 

The Nigerians have proved the biggest challenge to date as they came out all guns blazing in the first half, putting the Lionesses on the back foot – despite an early penalty chance for England that was disallowed by VAR. 

A huge spell of early possession from the Nigerian side led to a thunderous strike from Ashleigh Plumptre whose effort rattled the bar

Then moments later, Ifeoma Onumonu forced England’s keeper Mary Earps to scramble and save the rebound, as crowds at the Brisbane stadium roared in excitement. 

England’s response was rapid, as the Lionesses surged down into the Nigerian half, seeking to break the deadlock and take one step closer towards the quarter-final. 

Alessia Russo was gifted possession just outside their own penalty area. The Arsenal striker did not hesitate and shot on sight – forcing a save from Nigerian keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie. 

Lauren James has come under fire for her foul against Michelle Alozie of Nigeria last in the second half 

The 21-year-old English striker tumbled on top of the Nigerian before then stamping on her back 

After a review of the foul, a decision was made to upgrade James’ card from a yellow to a red 

The decision to send James off left England fans watching the game outside Wembley Stadium devastated (pictured)

Gary Lineker was not impressed by Lauren James after her ‘moment of madness’ saw her getting a red card

Minutes later, and England was gifted a penalty after Rachel Daly went to ground following contact with Rasheedat Ajibade.

But in more drama, the penalty was cancelled just seconds later following a VAR review, leading to uproar from the crowd – and from England fans on social media. 

‘Not a penalty for England… I would love to know how they came to that decision,’ one person tweeted. 

Another added: ‘Unbelievable overturn of a penalty award for England v Nigeria there. What a waste of four minutes and zero reason to reverse the decision. Terrible refereeing.’ 

Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway of England were visibly frustrated after the penalty was cancelled following the Video Assistant Referee review.

Nigeria started the brighter team in the first half at Brisbane, with early shots rattling the Lionesses (Pictured: Osinachi Ohale of Nigeria (left) and Alessia Russo of England compete for the ball during)

Oluwatosin Demehin of Nigeria clears the ball from Alessia Russo of England England Women v Nigerian Women, FIFA Women’s World Cup,

England’s Lionesses were under pressure as Nigeria started the brighter of the first half 

But after weathering the initial storm, Sarina Wiegman’s side retaliated forcing a diving save from the Nigerian keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie 

Jessica Carter of England goes down with an injury during the FIFA Women’s World Cup

England was awarded a penalty initially by the referee after Rachel Daly was shoved down in the box

But minutes later and it was fresh heartbreak for England after a VAR review overturned the decision 

Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway of England were visibly frustrated after the penalty was cancelled following the Video Assistant Referee review

The African side came close to taking the lead after that drama as Nigerian forward  Rasheedat Ajibade’s fierce shot was blocked heroically by Jess Carter, and then again by Millie Bright on the follow-up. 

England responded in rapid fashion, charging the ball back down into the Nigerian half and securing a series of corners – with England’s Lauren James sending her effort soaring over the crossbar. 

Lioness fans breathed a sigh of relief as the half-time whistle was blown, following a dominant performance by Nigeria – who had eight attempts on goal, more than any other team England has faced during this year’s tournament. 

Scores of England fans gathered at special viewings across the UK to watch the dramatic crunch match, transforming pubs and bars into a sea of red and white. 

At Boxpark in Wembley, fans were left shell-shocked by a potent Nigerian performance 

Confusion: A young England fan raises her hands while watching England at the Boxpark in Wembley

Fans have gathered in pubs and at special screening events to watch England’s last 16 clash against Nigeria. Pictured: England supporters at the fan zone near Wembley Stadium 

Other fans at Boxpark Wembley were left shell-shocked by the dominant performance of Nigeria 

This youngster at the Brisbane Rectangular Stadium showed his support for England with some patriotic face paint 

There were roars of excitement as England and Nigeria clashed during a thrilling first half 

While the action proved too much for some diehard fans, who were left watching the clash through their fingers

England supporters screamed in delight after the penalty was awarded – before groaning in disappointment after VAR overturned it. 

Others anxiously hugged one another during the thrilling end-to-end first half. 

While the action proved too much for some diehard fans, who were left watching the clash through their fingers. 

The second half resumed with Nigeria getting the first early chance, with England continuing to look uncomfortable. 

Flying out of the blocks, Nigeria’s Uchenna Kanu won the header at the back post, sending a looping effort at goal that rattled the top of the bar. 

As the one-way traffic continued, Nigeria’s relentless assault on the Lionesses’ box, showed no sign of letting up, forcing England’s Millie Bright into heading the ball behind for a corner.  

The corner floated towards the back post but came to nothing as England cleared their lines. 

The Lionesses retaliated moments later with their best opportunity of the match, as an expert delivery from Greenwood sent it directly onto the head of Russo – who skewed her header wide for a goal kick. 

England’s Mary Earps is forced into action as Nigeria looked the more dominant in the match 

Nigeria proved to be the most challenging side yet faced by the Lionesses. Pictured: Michelle Alozie of Nigeria and Lauren Hemp of England competing for the ball during 

Lauren Hemp of England goes down to ground during a bruising competition against Nigeria 

England head coach Sarina Wiegman appeared steely as she looks on at her side during the FIFA Women’s World Cup

Ifeoma Onumonu of Nigeria (left) and Keira Walsh of England compete for the ball during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Round of 16 s

Carter managed to get the ball in the final third but she couldn’t make it past a sea of Nigeria players – who gave England absolutely no space or time.

A smart throw in went to Stanway, who flicked it on to Russo – but who couldn’t get a shot off. 

Hemp, resurgent, then squeezed through the green wall of defence but saw her effort deflected behind for a corner, with the resulting set piece coming to nothing as the ball sailed onto the roof of the net. 

With 70 minutes gone, England – barring a few moments – failed to get a grip of the Nigerian side, coming off second best as the Africans continued to frustrate the European champions. 

But then, moment later in the 75th, England looked like it was finally about to break the deadlock.

Greenwood’s looping corner landed with Daly, who powered a thumping header – that was somehow saved by Nigerian keeper Nnadozie, who then held onto the ball at the rebound. It was England’s closest effort of the game so far. 

A cheap giveaway of possession following a misplaced pass by Hemp almost allowed Nigerians to notch their first score – as Kanu crossed into the box, with Oshoala blasting her shot over. 

Yet more sloppy play from England saw Hemp giving away a freekick, which was floated in towards goal but ultimately sent wide. 

England continued to face stiff opposition from the Nigerians (Russo is pictured making an attempt on goal)

The attempt was collected by Nigerian keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie

Then, minutes later, Chiamaka Nnadozie makes another stave, stopping Daly’s effort at goal before collecting the ball on the ground (pictured)

Fans watching England could not contain their nerves as England went into extra time 

The Lionesses have battled to cling on as they went a player down towards he end of the second half 

Lauren James with a reckless move was shown a yellow card after losing the ball as she lunged in on Alozie and is shown a yellow card.

But then, in fresh heartbreak, it was upgraded to a red card with less than four minutes of normal time to go, leaving England with just 10 to finish the match. 

The decision now means that even if England were to progress, James could now face a ban.

Beth England is hopeful James’ punishment for her red card will not see her ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

‘We all know Lauren is magic, she is our weapon and it’s a big loss for us but we can’t change that now,’ she told Radio 5 Live after the match.

‘We have an unbelievable squad and players who can fill in in that position and hopefully we can see her again in the tournament.’

With 30 minutes of extra time starting – and penalties looming – England needed a strong start and some inspiration from the squad to keep its World Cup hopes alive. 

A nervy 15 minutes of extra time saw a couple of chances swinging Nigeria’s way, with England going in with their backs against the wall. 

After 120 minutes, with no goals netted, the match went to a penalty shootout (pictured are players waiting as the penalties were taken)

England’s Alex Greenwood scores a penalty kick during a penalty shoot-out against Nigeria 

But it was heartache for the Nigerians, who lost 4-2 on penalties after dominating for much of the game (Pictured: Christy Ucheibe of Nigeria is consoled after her team’s defeat)

Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie reacts after taking a penalty shot which goes wide during a penalty shoot-out after extra time

In a show of class, England’s players console Nigerian keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie after her team is knocked out of the Women’s World Cup

The second half of extra time saw little from England, as the outnumbered squad dug in and attempted to cling on, in hopes of turning their fortunes around with a penalty shootout. 

And in yet another worrying blow for England, Daly screamed out in pain during a heavy clash of heads with Ajibade moments before the end of the second half of extra time. 

England almost managed to poke in a final-minute winner with a free kick on the half way line after a foul on Stanway. 

Nearly everyone charged forward, with Greenwood sending it and Mead flicking it on – as the ball bounced agonisingly wide.

England missed their first penalty –  with Nigeria doing the same and missing their opening shot. 

Beth England, who saw no minutes at the European Championships, became the first to score, with a thumping penalty that sent England fans wild. 

Another Nigerian miss saw England stretch its lead to two, as Daly blasted her effort into the net. 

Kelly went on to score the winning fourth goal by England, sending them through to the last eight. 

And in a move that garnered her praise on social media, Kelly was pictured consoling the Nigerian keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie immediately after she scored the winning penalty. 

England will now face either Columbia or Jamaica in the final eight on Saturday. 

The match is set to kick-off at 11.30am. 

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