Russo's Lionesses reach World Cup quarters

Alessia Russo competes for the ball against Nigeria's Christy Ucheibe

Alessia Russo and Lotte Wubben-Moy are through to the World Cup quarter-finals after England won a dramatic penalty shootout against Nigeria.

The European champions were frustrated by  an excellent Nigerian side, who had already knocked out the Olympic champions - Canada - in the group stage. Nigeria spent most of the first half in the ascendancy and saw their best chance, a powerful shot from Ashleigh Plumptre, rattle Mary Earps’ crossbar. 

After weathering a relentless spell of Nigerian pressure, it looked as though England might take a surprising lead after Rachel Daly was judged to have been fouled in the box. However, a VAR intervention overturned the penalty decision and it remained goalless at half-time. 

Our own Alessia Russo came close to breaking the deadlock after she was gifted the ball with the Nigerian keeper off her line. Russo’s well-struck shot headed goalwards but Nnadozie managed to make an instinctive save. 

Russo remained England’s striker until the 87th minute, when Lauren James was sent off for a reckless stamp on Michelle Alosie. As the Lionesses were reduced to 10 women, Russo made way for Chloe Kelly.

The stalemate continued into extra-time before it was time for the second penalty shootout of the tournament so far. Despite England’s regular penalty taker Georgia Stanway missing the first spot kick, the Lionesses ended up on top thanks to perfect strikes from Beth England, Alex Greenwood, Rachel Daly and Chloe Kelly. 

Sarina Wiegman’s side will now face either Jamaica or Colombia in the next round as they hope to reach their third successive World Cup semi-final.

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