Some absolutely appalling behaviour from the Cameroon players overshadows the result as England win 3-0 in Valenciennes. Despite all the controversy, England progress and will face Norway in the quarter-final.
The tone of the game was set very early on as less than a few minutes in, Nikita Parris was elbowed by Yvonne Leuko while running down the wing. The first goal for England came in the 14th minute when Augustine Ejangue touched the ball back to the keeper inside her own box before seemingly spitting on Toni Duggan. Unfortunately for her, the keeper picked the ball up and the referee, in her first major decision of the game, gave an indirect free-kick six or so yards from goal. Captain Steph Houghton stepped up to take it and slammed her effort into the bottom right corner.
It’s worth noting that neither of the two decisions above were even checked by VAR – despite both being very clear for all to see.
All the bad blood from the Cameroon players started in injury time of the first half as Ellen White slammed home an effort from the edge of the box. The goal was originally ruled out for offside but following a VAR review which showed White was comfortably onside, the referee overturned the decision – cue pandemonium. A replay of the incident went up on the big screen in the stadium and the Cameroonian players went ballistic.
They surrounded the referee, shouting and pointing at the screen. They seemed to think they had seen something which should mean the goal would be disallowed. They delayed the restart for more than six minutes as the referee failed to get any sort of a hold on the incident.
As half-time came, the drama didn’t end there as BBC Reporter Jo Currie reported the Cameroonians were crying in the tunnel. She even said some of them went as far as to accuse FIFA of racism. They came out for the second half a good five or so minutes before the England girls and were followed onto the pitch by a FIFA official. She seemed to give the Cameroon players a bit of a ticking off – a reminder of the rules perhaps.
England vs Cameroon was ugly
It didn’t seem to matter much though as less than five minutes into the second period, all hell broke loose once again. Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene got down the wing before picking out Ajara Nchout in the area. Nchout buried her effort, thinking she’d brought her side back into the game – until VAR got involved.
Replays showed that Onguene was marginally offside in the build up to the goal, leaving the referee no choice but to disallow the goal. It caused more protests as once again the Cameroon players flocked to the referee and their coach on the sideline. Again, there were tears and again, they looked to be refusing to play. Fortunately, they settled down and the game got going once more – but things got even worse pretty quickly as England added a third.
The final goal for Phil Neville’s side came from a great corner routine which found Alex Greenwood unmarked in the box to sweep the ball home. 3-0, game over. There would be no more goals but that certainly didn’t mean the drama finished as Cameroon continued to act out.
There was a penalty decision for the Lionesses as Fran Kirby was clearly and visibly fouled in the area. The referee ran to the sideline screen to review the incident and inexplicably decided not to award the penalty. Then, in the final moments of the game, Steph Houghton ran for a ball on the sideline before being sent flying following a disgusting foul from Alexandra Takounda. Despite the ball having already been cleared, Takounda scraped her studs down the ankle of the Lionesses skipper.
Once more, the referee checked VAR for a possible red card but opted to rule in favour of the Cameroonian and award just a yellow instead. My only conclusion for these final incidents is that the referee decided to rule in their favour so as to not incite anymore reactions like those we had seen earlier.
You had to feel sorry for the referee, but she failed to get any sort of a hold on that game all the way through. She was out of her depth from the get go and really should have handled the Cameroonian players better. Somehow, despite all the poor behaviour and fouls, only two Cameroon players saw a yellow card in the whole game.
Credit must be given to the England players for their professionalism throughout. They were tested under the most hostile of atmospheres but England’s Lionesses put in a performance that the whole country can be proud of. They march on into the next round where they will face Norway.
Cameroon, on the other hand, should be ashamed of themselves.