Day three of the Round of 16 FIFA Women’s World Cup saw England beat Nigeria 4-2 in penalties after a goalless 120 minutes of football, while Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso scored a goal each in a comprehensive 2-0 win for Australia over Denmark.
It was an end-to-end match at Suncorp Stadium, with the Lionesses seemingly run off their feet by the athletic Super Falcons, who defended vigorously until the last minute.
The English will go into the quarterfinals without Lauren James who was red carded in the 87th minute when she petulantly stomped on Nigerian defender Michelle Alozie.
Nigeria’s best chance of the first half came when the ball landed perfectly on the edge of the box for Ashleigh Plumptre, whose shot ricocheted into an English defender and bounced off the crossbar.
England thought they were hard-done-by in the 35th minute when Rasheedat Ajibade ran into Rachel Daly, the referee calling a penalty before VAR stepped in and overturned the decision.
Within minutes of returning from the half-time break, Uchenna Kanu’s header rebounded off the crossbar after some crafty build-up play from Nigeria, but the West African nation were out of luck.
The second half saw England begin to switch on and bring an attacking energy they were lacking in the first 45 minutes, but with the score line still at nil all after extra time, the two teams reset for a penalty shootout.
Lioness Chloe Kelly scored the final penalty to win it for England after Nigeria missed two from the spot.
It’s been a slow start to the tournament for the English, who will be looking to perform better in their next knock-out match against either Columbia or Jamaica on August 12 in Sydney.
Meanwhile, the Matildas have advanced onto the quarterfinals after their 2-0 win over Denmark at Stadium Australia.
Caitlin Foord put Australia in front in the 29th minute when she slotted the ball through the legs of the Danish goalkeeper against the run of play after a pinpoint assist from Mary Fowler.
Hayley Raso doubled Australia’s lead mid-way through the second half, with Fowler setting her up once again. The ball made its way through the middle to the composed feet of Emily van Egmond. Van Egmond’s touch found Raso, who buried the ball into the back of the net.
The biggest threat to Australia was Pernille Harder, who caused problems for Australia with her quick feet and tight touch – but it wasn’t enough to get Denmark over the line on Monday night.
The icing on the cake for the Matildas was the roar of 75,784 fans as Sam Kerr stepped onto the field for the first time this tournament after returning from a calf-injury.
Australia have now booked themselves into a quarterfinal match against either France or Morocco at Suncorp Stadium on August 12.