England v Cameroon: Five things we learned

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A 3-0 win, their biggest victory in a World Cup knock-out match and England are through to the quarter-finals.

But after two halves of VAR-based madness, the reaction to the Lionesses’ victory has been subdued primarily because of the behaviour we saw on the pitch.

England managed to keep their discipline and progress to the next round, but there were some worrying moments for fans.

Here is what we learnt about the Lionesses in a match that, at times, really didn’t resemble a football match.

The magic 14th minute

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There’s something special about the 14th minute for England.

Steph Houghton’s opening goal against Cameroon was the third 14th-minute strike England had scored in four World Cup games.

Nikita Parris and Ellen White scored their respective goals against Scotland and Japan at the same time.

When it comes to facing Norway on Thursday evening, they could do with some more of that fine finishing early on.

Steph Houghton’s crucial impact at the right time

When it comes to knock-out football you need your leaders to step up at the right time – Steph Houghton did that today.

The England captain was given the player of the match award by the BBC and her opening goal – a superbly placed shot from an indirect free kick – came at just the right moment.

Houghton’s only other goal at the World Cup for England came in the 2015 last-16 game against Norway, which was another crucial goal at an important time.

But her leadership in a sea of chaos was also vital today when there was a shocking lack of it from others on the pitch.

Thankfully the late challenge on the defender also doesn’t seem to have caused lasting damage.

Where would we be without Ellen White?

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The England striker has quickly become undroppable thanks to her clinical finishing in this tournament.

She now has four goals in the competition and is in the kind of form where she really doesn’t need many chances to find the net.

In fact she has now scored the joint-most goals at a single tournament – a record shared with the legend Kelly Smith who also scored four at the 2007 World Cup.

In knock-out football a clinical Ellen White is a lethal weapon to have.

England’s performance levels take a dip yet again

One of the major criticisms that has come the way of the Lionesses is for more consistency at the World Cup.

For them to have any realistic chance of going on and winning they see a solid 90 minutes.

But once again there was a mix of intensity for England with another second half drop off and for a time in the second half there was some sloppy play on display.

So far England have either gotten away with it or managed to score at crucial moments – both Ellen White and Alex Greenwood’s goals today were a fine example of that.

But the inconsistency could yet prove to be this team’s downfall.

Can England maintain their composure?

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This was an incredibly difficult game for all involved, there’s no hiding behind that.

But at the start of the second half, shortly after Cameroon’s offside goal, the defence and midfield seemingly fell apart.

While part of that can be put down to their drop in energy, a lot of it seemed to be deeply rooted in panic.

Gaps started to appear, and the African side exploited those before Greenwood managed to seal England’s third.

Every game from here on will provide challenges – a World Cup isn’t a breeze after all – and if a team with more ability are given the space that England allowed Cameroon at times it will not end well.

Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992

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