Lauren James of England inexplicably puts her boot into the Nigeria player – Matt Roberts/Getty Images
Lauren James’s sensational World Cup imploded against Nigeria as the Chelsea youngster was sent off for stamping on defender Michelle Alozie.
The red card means an automatic one-match ban but given it was presumably shown for violent conduct, England’s best player in Australia could now miss the rest of the tournament through suspension, with the Lionesses having eventually progressed on penalties.
With England struggling to cope with the speed and strength of Nigeria, who had already beaten hosts Australia in the group stage, James lost her cool in the 87th minute.
Lauren James initially appears to fall on Michelle Alozie after a tackle – Isabel Infantes/PA
But it was as she gets up that she then puts her boot into the Nigeria player’s back – Matt Roberts/Getty Images
Having been well marshalled by the Nigeria midfield and defence on a hugely frustrating night and a largely insipid Lionesses performance, James clearly brought her boot down on the back of Alozie as she lay on the floor.
It was a flash of temper from the 21-year-old who can have no complaints about the intervention of the Var officials after the referee had initially shown a yellow.
James walks from the field, leaving her team still searching a winner against Nigeria – Zac Goodwin/PA
The crowd, which had noisily given their backing to the underdogs Nigeria, made their disgust at James’s behaviour and roared when the yellow was turned into red.
Ellen White said on the BBC: “It’s disappointing, she was frustrated during the game. There was no need for it. This will galvanise England, they need to come together now.”
Former England defender Anita Asante added: “I’m really disappointed. One act has kind of tarnished all the good work that Lauren James has done up until this point.
“She is a superstar and hopefully she will grow from this experience. Her team now have lost a player who has the ability to turn a game on it’s head.”
It left England with a huge mountain to climb with 10 players and the whole of extra-time to navigate their way through.
It also brought back painful memories of David Beckham’s sending off against Argentina at France 1998 and Wayne Rooney against Portugal in Germany 2006. On both those occasions England went on to lose the game on penalties.
Wayne Rooney also saw red for his foul on Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho at the 2006 men’s World Cup – VOLKER HARTMANN/AFP
Sarina Wiegman has proven herself time and again at international tournaments, but her side have been really poor in Brisbane and she will be criticised for not making any substitutions earlier in the game given the lack of a goal threat in open play.
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