England and Australia advance at World Cup

England's players celebrate their victory over Nigeria after a penalty shoot-out, 2023 FIFA World Cup. Photo: AFP

England and Australia have progressed to the quarter-finals of the women’s football World Cup.

England survived the loss of Lauren James to a red card, 120 minutes of pressure from Nigeria, and a penalty shootout in their last 16 victory in Brisbane, in a game coach Sarina Wiegman said was one of the most “intense” she had experienced.

England were on the back foot for most of the game and especially after James, their top scorer this tournament with three goals, was sent off in the 87th minute for a stamp on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie.

“I just know I’m 10 years older,” Wiegman, 53, said. “I haven’t been in very many games that were so intense as this one tonight.”

Manchester City forward Chloe Kelly, also the hero with an extra-time goal in England’s Euro 2022 final win over Germany, scored the decisive penalty in a 4-2 shootout victory.

“I’ve never experienced so many problems,” Wiegman said. “But of course it’s my job to think of things that can happen in a game or in a tournament or ahead of the tournament.

“You try to turn every stone and then try to already think of solutions for when things happen. And – well – today we got totally tested on those stones.”

James will miss Saturday’s quarter-final against either Colombia or Jamaica, and depending on a FIFA disciplinary review, she could miss the rest of the tournament in what would be a massive blow to England’s World Cup dreams.

Australia's Hayley Raso celebrates scoring during the round of 16 match between Australia and Denmark at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Australia’s Hayley Raso celebrates scoring during the round of 16 match between Australia and Denmark at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Photo: AFP

Co-hosts Australia welcomed captain Sam Kerr to the fray for the first time in the tournament as they beat Denmark 2-0 in Sydney.

Forwards Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso scored the goals either side of halftime before Kerr, who has been absent with a calf injury, came on as a 78th-minute substitute to the biggest roar of the night from the crowd of 75,784.

Australia, who have reached the last eight at three previous World Cups but never gone further, move on to meet either France or Morocco in Brisbane on Saturday with a place in the semi-finals on the line.

“We were under a lot of pressure that first half but we didn’t get rattled,” said Australia coach Tony Gustavsson.

“The team is very mature playing tournament football and can find a way to get it done.”

Denmark dominated the early exchanges with Pernille Harder looking particularly dangerous but faded as the game went on with their first World Cup campaign since 2007 destined to end in the last 16.

Source: RNZ