England progressed to the Women's World Cup quarter finals after beating Cameroon 3-0 in an ill-tempered match at the Stade du Hainaut.


Steph Houghton broke the deadlock for Phil Neville's side with a smart close-range finish, before Ellen White converted upon finding herself one-on-one with Annette Ngo Ndom as half-time loomed. Alex Greenwood made the game safe in the second period turning a half-volley home, as the Lionesses deservedly booking a date with Norway in the next round.

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Cameroon should have been reduced to 10 players in the opening minutes of the encounter, with Yvonne Leuko fortunate to escape with a just a yellow card after catching Nikita Parris with a flung elbow.


Unfazed by their opponents' physicality, England began to establish themselves, gradually taking a stranglehold on the proceedings and finding space increasingly easy to come by.


Toni Duggan was released down the right on ten minutes, though her testing ball into the area was awkwardly cleared by a combination of Cameroonian defenders. However, a near-identical scenario soon after forced Aurelle Awona into making a back-pass to her own goalkeeper.


The resulting indirect free-kick was taken by Duggan, who nonchalantly rolled the ball into Houghton's path. With every Cameroon player guarding the net, the captain placed a clinical finish through a sea of green and into the bottom corner to hand her country the lead.

Aware of their own dominance, Neville's side started to slow the tempo of play and take the sting out of the match, with Houghton and fellow centre-back Millie Bright dictating from deep.


Chances came few and far between thereafter, Cameroon occasionally breaking upfield only to squander the opportunity with poor decision-making.


Despite taking something of a backseat, England continued to probe and cause their opposition problems, eventually hitting a second on the stroke of half-time via the left boot of Ellen White, the ​Manchester City forward sweeping beyond an onrushing Annette Ngo Ndom.


The effort was initially disallowed, however, the assistant referee flagged as White latched onto a cute through-ball from Lucy Bronze. VAR was consulted following complaints from the Lionesses, replays showing the striker had been comfortably onside.

Neville struggled to hide his delight on the touchline, though the smile was wiped off of his face within three minutes of the restart as Ajara Nchout thundered a rising shot into the roof of Karen Bardsley's goal.


Fortunately for the keeper, the underdogs had their goal chalked off for a marginal offside - again picked up by VAR - in the build-up, sparking furious protests in the Cameroonian dugout.


England proceeded to wobble briefly, being opened up once more as Alexandra Engolo went through on Bardsley. Nevertheless, the City shot-stopper was up to the task, smothering a hesitant effort to keep her clean-sheet.


On the rocks and needing a foothold, the 2015 semi finalists guaranteed their safe passage to the next round via Alex Greenwood's neat, guided shot on the hour-mark, the left-back turning a low corner in at the far-post.

From then on it was plain sailing, with the Lionesses able to enjoy the closing stages of the affair. They nearly made it 4-0 - which would have been a record for any England team in a World Cup knockout game - but substitute Jodie Taylor's lopped attempt was scrambled to safety as it bobbled towards the gaping net.


A late, raking challenge from Engolo on Houghton should have been punished with a red card, yet Cameroon were again let off the hook, even after a VAR referral. 


Check out 90min's breakdown of the game below.


England 


Key Talking Point


England looked composed and assured for nearly the entirety of this match, rarely being troubled by their opponents. Much of that can be attributed to their intelligence with the ball, the Lionesses keeping things ticking over and spreading the play well.

Nikita Parris,Yvonne Leuko

Neville will be extremely pleased by his team's control of possession, which allowed them to keep Cameroon at arm's length for large periods. But, a weak underbelly was exposed in the aftermath of Nchout's disallowed goal, with England visibly shaken and having to swiftly regather themselves.


They cannot afford such moments against the likes of the USA and still expect to progress. Still, it is better for the issue to arise now - whilst Neville has time to adjust - than during a crunch clash with the Americans or another top-tier nation.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Bardsley (7); Bronze (7), Haughton (8*), Bright (6), Greenwood (6); Walsh (5), Scott (5), Kirby (6); Parris (7), Duggan (6), White (8).

Substitutes: Taylor (7), Williamson (5), Staniforth (6).


STAR PLAYER: Steph Houghton


It's difficult to find an England player who didn't impress in this strong team display, though it is also hard to select the standout performer. However, Houghton is the leading candidate, showing leadership and game awareness, as well as rifling home the first score.

In high-pressure environments like a World Cup knockout tie, it is imperative that a side's captain stands up to be counted. Houghton did far more than that, ensuring the team held a firm grip on the game and keeping those around her focused.


She was also the one to unify the group when Cameroon had a spell of pressure, marshalling the backline and making several key clearances to eliminate the danger.





Cameroon


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Ngo Ndom (5); Leuko (3), Ejangue (5), Johnson (7), Awona (6); Nchout (7), Abam (6), Feudjio (7), Yango (6), Onguene (5); Enganamouit (7*).

Substitutes: Engolo (3), Sonkeng (6), Abena (5).


STAR PLAYER: Gaëlle Enganamouit


Cameroon were industrious and energetic in defeat, relentlessly chasing after England. Their afternoon can be characterised by the selfless running of Enganamouit up-front, the striker hounding opposition defenders and giving them something to think about.





Looking Ahead


England have a short turnaround before facing Norway in the quarters, the Nordic nation having slipped past Australia in their own last-16 tie via a penalty-shootout. The Lionesses will be confident of overcoming Martin Sjogren's side, who are ranked nine places below them in the FIFA world rankings 


As for Cameroon, this is the end of their World Cup adventure after matching their previous best performance in the tournament. The Africans were eliminated at the same stage four years ago, going down 1-0 to China.