England’s bid to take home a maiden Women’s World Cup title survived a nail-biting challenge on Monday.
Despite being reduced to ten heading into extra time of their closely-contested last-16 tie against Nigeria, Sarina Wiegman’s side produced a resilient display to take the game to penalties.
After a breathless 0-0 draw in 120 minutes, England ousted the Nigerians 4-2 on penalties to reach the quarter-finals for the fifth tournament in a row.
The Lionesses enjoyed more possession, especially in the early exchanges, but clear-cut chances were at a premium.
Randy Waldrum’s ladies were inferior in terms of possession, but they grew in confidence and came close to taking the lead.
However, Alessia Russo’s goalline clearance denied Nigeria a first goal after a four-game scoring drought against European opposition.
England weathered the storm to book a quarter-final date against either Jamaica or Colombia, condemning the Super Falcons to a third successive last-16 exit.
In the other round-of-16 tie, co-hosts Australia thrived in front of a sold-out Olympic Stadium in Sydney, netting on either side of half-time to beat Denmark 2-0.
Arsenal forward Caitlin Foord opened the scoring in the 29th minute, latching onto Mary Fowler’s delightful through ball to slot home her first goal at this World Cup.
Real Madrid’s Hayley Raso doubled Australia’s lead midway through the second half, getting on the end of another inch-perfect cross from Fowler.
The Olympic Stadium crowd went into rapture when iconic Chelsea ace Sam Kerr featured for the first time at the tournament.
Kerr failed to influence the game, but Tony Gustavsson’s team won’t be bothered as they reached the quarter-finals in emphatic fashion.
Australia’s fourth quarter-final appearance in the last five Women’s World Cup pits them against the winner of an exciting last-16 tie between France and Morocco.
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