England were made to dig deep when Lauren James was given a red card for a stamp on Michelle Alozie late in the game.
England secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup after winning a dramatic penalty shoot-out 4-2 against Nigeria in Brisbane, Australia.
It was forward Chloe Kelly who broke Nigerian hearts and sent England supporters into raptures as she hammered home the winning spot kick past Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Nnadozie.
The defeat means Nigeria have failed to win a knockout game in any of their ten World Cup tournaments.
120 minutes of football were not enough to separate the two sides, who could not break the deadlock despite England being reduced to 10 players when Lauren James stamped on Michelle Alozie late on.
England’s first penalty-taker Georgia Stanway did little to calm her country’s nerves when she fired wide of the post. But fatigue was taking its toll on both sets of players. Nigeria missed their next two efforts from the 12-yard spot.
England became title favourites after the defending champion US team were eliminated on Sunday in a penalty shootout loss to Sweden.
But the Lionesses struggled to create opportunities against Nigeria’s staunch defence and were the weaker side for much of the game.
Matters were made worse for England five minutes from time when star forward James was sent off, after a VAR review, for violent conduct after stomping on a Nigeria defender.
She will now miss England’s quarter-final tie and could potentially face a longer ban.
England will meet Colombia or Jamaica in Sydney next Saturday in the quarter-finals.