Bronze's penalty shootout 'distraction tactic' as England progress at World Cup

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Bronze
Bronze's penalty shootout 'distraction tactic' as England progress at World Cup

England defender Lucy Bronze appeared to attempt to distract the Nigeria goalkeeper during the penalty shootout victory in the round of 16 at the Women's World Cup.

Sarina Wiegman's Lionesses were held to a goalless draw by the Super Falcons in Brisbane on Monday, failing to build on their clinical display against China in the final World Cup group game.

Nigeria looked the likeliest to score with former Leicester defender Ashleigh Plumptre coming close twice in the opening stages. The opponents' efforts were helped further in the second half when Lauren James saw red for a stamp on Michelle Alozie.

After a lengthy VAR check, the initial yellow card shown by referee Melissa Borjas was rightfully upgraded to a red. England would need to hang on with 10 players.

They just about did as, despite Nigeria's pressure, neither side could find an opening in 120 minutes of action. Penalties would be needed to decide who will face either Jamaica or Colombia in the quarter-finals.

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The nerves continued for the Lionesses as Georgia Stanway sent their first spot-kick wide, but it was quickly rescued by Bethany England and Rachel Daly. Desire Oparanozie and Alozie missed Nigeria's first two penalties to give Wiegman's side the upper hand.

Alex Greenwood then stepped up for England and as she prepared to take the kick, the camera cut to the team lined up on the halfway line and Bronze appeared to raise her arm in an attempt to put off the Nigeria keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie. It worked to some extent too, with Greenwood sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Bronze's penalty shootout 'distraction tactic' as England progress at World CupEngland beat Nigeria 4-2 on penalties to progress to the quarter-finals of the World Cup (BBC Sport)

Christy Ucheibe then also found the net, putting the pressure on Chloe Kelly to secure the win. She calmly and cooly dispatched her spot-kick to fire England into the next round, with Bronze using her tricks once again. It was far from their best display at this tournament, but they did just about enough to get over the line.

Colombia and Jamaica face off on Tuesday morning for the final day of final 16 fixtures. England will face the winner of that game on Saturday with an 11:30am kick-off.

Hannah Pinnock

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