Belfast Telegraph

I'm proud of how England kept cool heads amid the controversy, says Scott

 

Stuck in: England’s Jill Scott (left) after tackling Yvonne Patrice Leuko
Stuck in: England’s Jill Scott (left) after tackling Yvonne Patrice Leuko

By Phil Medlicott

Jill Scott emphasised her pride in the way England handled their World Cup last-16 clash with Cameroon - and does not believe she will ever play in another game like it.

Phil Neville's side emerged with a 3-0 victory from a remarkable match in Valenciennes that saw Cameroon twice react to VAR decisions going against them by remonstrating with the officials at length and looking as if they might not continue playing in protest.

England's players - most notably Nikita Parris and Steph Houghton - were also on the receiving end of some considerably rough treatment, while Toni Duggan's arm was spat on by Cameroon's Augustine Ejangue.

Fifa have said they are "looking into" the on-field incidents and will update in due course.

Houghton, Ellen White and Alex Greenwood got the goals as England set up a quarter-final against Norway in Le Havre on Thursday.

According to the BBC, Sunday's clash set a new record as the UK's most watched women's football match, with a peak television audience of 6.9m.

England midfielder Scott said: "I don't think I'll ever play in another game like that to be honest. There were a lot of VAR incidents and a lot of protests. It kind of had everything.

"I think one thing that I'm proud of is how logical this team stayed and we just focused on the next moment that we could control. I thought we did that fantastically well."

The 32-year-old now stands alone as England's record World Cup appearance maker, surpassing Peter Shilton as she played her 18th match at a finals on Sunday.

She added: "We knew it was going to be physical and that if you took three or four touches on the ball you'd probably get it taken off you.

"I think we moved the ball well at times and that we're growing nicely in this tournament. Hopefully we can continue that on Thursday.

"There were obviously a few rough challenges, but you know in games like this everybody is just so desperate to get to the next round.

"I think that was the same for Cameroon and they probably knew we were going to be technically too good for them, so they probably had to play a more physical game and I think that's probably what you have seen."

After Parris took an elbow in the face early on from Yvonne Leuko, who was booked by referee Qin Liang, England went ahead in the 14th minute when Cameroon were judged to have been guilty of a back pass. Duggan, spat on by Ejangue just after the incident, rolled the resulting indirect free-kick to Houghton and the captain fired in.

Then came the two moments of fierce protest from Cameroon where it seemed play might not be able to continue - in first-half stoppage time when the decision to rule out White's finish for offside was overturned via VAR and just after the break, once again involving an offside call, as Ajara Nchout's strike was disallowed following a review.

Greenwood struck to make it 3-0 just prior to the hour mark, before Houghton was caught on the ankle late on by an awful tackle by Alexandra Takounda, who was shown a yellow card.

England defender Millie Bright said: "That's my first time playing against Cameroon. It was quite an experience.

"It was a strange game, we always knew that they were going to be physical, so we knew we had to win that battle first."

On Cameroon looking as if they might walk off, Bright said: "It's the first time in my career I've experienced anything like that.

"I was thinking, 'Get on with it', but I was trying to remain focused on the game and we kept all the focus on ourselves, we will do that against any opponent."

While Neville spoke afterwards of feeling "completely and utterly ashamed of the behaviour" of Cameroon, his counterpart Alain Djeumfa said there had been a "miscarriage of justice" and that his players "showed fair play".

Meanwhile, Cameroon midfielder Raissa Feudjio claimed boss Djeumfa had told his team at half-time "the referee wants England to win".

Feudjio also accused the referee of "dirty work" and said Cameroon players had reached the point where "we didn't want to play any more" but continued because they were representing their country.

Feudjio said: "We continued playing for our country despite the referee doing her dirty work.

"She (White) was offside (replays in fact showed her to be clearly onside). But the referee did not even go to check the goal (by looking at footage pitchside). She gave the goal.

"But then our goal was disallowed and we found ourselves in a difficult situation where most of us did not want to play or carry on. We just wanted the game to be over.

"But because we were playing for our country we decided to go on."

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