England survive on tiebreaker, co-host Australia advance

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Title contenders England reached the FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinals after edging Nigeria in a penalty shootout on Monday, while co-host Australia advanced with a 2-0 victory over Denmark, reported Xinhua.

England survived a major challenge from Nigeria, a surprise performer at the tournament, and overcame a red card to star midfielder Lauren James in the 87th minute for a stomping.

The scores remained deadlocked at 0-0 after extra time, but European champions England kept their composure to prevail 4-2 in the penalty shootout.

Nigeria was on the back foot after Desire Oparanozie and Michelle Alozie missed their opening two shots.

Substitute Chloe Kelly sealed England's victory in front of a 50,000 crowd in Brisbane.

England will face Colombia or Jamaica in the quarterfinals on Saturday, but will be without James who was initially given a yellow card before it was changed to a red.

"I have not spoken to LJ (James) yet. I am sure she will be disappointed but we stick together as a team," said England goalkeeper Mary Earps, who was the Player of the Match.

"The odds were against us tonight but the team came together fantastically to really grind it out."

Nigeria gave England all they could handle, but squandered several opportunities, including from Alozie and Asisat Oshoala in extra-time.

While their campaign ended in heartbreak, Nigeria emerged as a breakout team marked by an eye-catching fast tempo which they spectacularly unleashed against Australia in a shock 3-2 victory.

"To come in here and play the way they did tonight, I thought we were every bit as good (as England)," Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum said.

"We had every opportunity to get the result and unfortunately we didn't get it done."

Elsewhere, talismanic captain Sam Kerr returned from injury as Australia powered into the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over Denmark.

Kerr earned a deafening ovation from the 75,784 fans in Sydney when she entered in the 80th minute after goals from Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso.

The 29-year-old Kerr, the poster player of the tournament, had a late chance but fired high and wide. Moments later she lost her footing and grimaced on landing, but showed no ill-effects after that.

"It's massive for us to have a player like her back and boost our confidence…it's huge for us," Foord said of Kerr.

"If we play like that, I'm confident we can beat anyone. We want to keep our dream alive."

After a nervous start, the Matildas clawed their way into the contest and were rewarded in the 29th minute when Mary Fowler on the counterattack produced a perfect through ball to Foord, who calmly fired between the legs of goalkeeper Lene Christensen.

Denmark never recovered amid a febrile atmosphere and Australia pounced in the 70th minute when Raso scored in the bottom corner much to the delight of their jubilant fans.

But the biggest ovation was left for Kerr, whose long-awaited return capped a momentous performance from Australia.

Australia will play France or Morocco in the quarterfinals.

In Tuesday's round of 16 matches, Jamaica faces Colombia in a clash of surprise packages, while France plays underdog Morocco.

  •  Women’s WC
  •  England
  •  Nigeria
  •  Australia
  •  Denmark

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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