The Three Lions booked a quarter-final spot against Norway but had to come through a difficult and ill-tempered last-16 clash
Phil Neville hit out at Cameroon players for their ‘disgraceful and disrespectful’ conduct during their 3-0 defeat to England in the last-16 of the Women’s World Cup.
On a sweltering hot day in Valenciennes, tempers were frayed and emotions ran high after a series of contentious calls and some extraordinary behaviour from the Cameroon players marred the action on the pitch.
In the build-up to the match Neville had described Cameroon, who, at 46th in the world, were the lowest-ranked team in the last 16, as “very unpredictable” and few could have anticipated what would unfold in front of a crowd of 20,148 that included Samuel Eto’o.
Alain Djeumfa’s side showed their physicality early on as Lucy Bronze was shoved over by Raissa Feudjio and Nikita Parris received an elbow in the face from Yvonne Leuko, who was perhaps fortunate only to be yellow-carded.
Augustine Ejangue then appeared to spit on Toni Duggan after conceding an indirect free-kick from which England scored.
Extraordinary scenes then followed as Cameroon made their displeasure known about two VAR decisions that went against them.
After Ellen White’s finish in first-half stoppage time was ruled out for offside and the decision was subsequently overturned, Cameroon’s players remonstrated at length with the officials and there appeared some doubt over whether they would resume playing.
Their anger then increased shortly after the interval when Ajara Nchout fired the ball into England’s net and a VAR review saw that effort chalked off for offside. The game was held up once more as Cameroon made further angry protests, with Nchout in tears.
England were left fuming further in stoppage time over a shocking tackle on Steph Houghton by Alexandra Takounda, which left the defender in a crumpled heap on the touchline and, surprisingly, was only deemed worthy of a yellow card.
England boss Neville was delighted that his side managed to keep their cool amongst the chaos, but he could not hide his displeasure at the antics of their opponents.
“It was disgraceful, it was disrespectful”, he told talkSPORT.
“We’ve come here to tell the world that women’s football has great integrity. We didn’t see that.
“There’s no excuses. I’m just proud that my players acted with class and humility.
“There’s no excuses for bad behaviour on a football field.
“I’m just proud that my players acted with class and humility in the face of a team that threatened to walk off the field.”
Neville continued to suggest that the Cameroon players failed to act in a way expected of those representing the sport.
“It took the enjoyment out of the game for me because I’m in a place where I want women’s football to be seen around the world,” he continued.
“I want my daughter to play football but when she sees that she’ll probably say: ‘Daddy, what’s going on here?’”
England will next face Norway on Thursday in Le Havre for a place in the semi-finals. You can listen to live commentary of the match on talkSPORT.