Jun 23 (AP/UNB) - Alexandra Popp had just scored a go-ahead goal against Nigeria in her 100th international appearance when Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita signaled for a video review to determine whether a German teammate Svenja Huth, who was in an offside position, obstructed the view of goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.
"I was a bit irritated to be honest," the German captain said through a translator.
Popp's goal stood, and a few minutes later the match was stopped for another video review, this time to determine whether Germany's Lina Magull had been fouled in the penalty area by Evelyn Nwabuoko. Having seen the stud marks in her teammate's leg, Popp was pleased the referee took a look and awarded a penalty kick.
"Otherwise, I would have asked myself why we were using this technology," Popp said, "so it was quite obvious in the pictures."
Germany advanced to the Women's World Cup quarterfinals for the eighth straight time, beating African champion Nigeria 3-0 Saturday at Grenoble, France.
Nigeria coach Thomas Dennerby endorsed VAR but said it caused disruptions.
"Football is also a game with a rhythm and if you break the rhythm sometimes that is not good," he said. "It's good for the game, but I don't think anybody really has the final solution for VAR yet."
Popp scored in the 20th minute. Sara Däbritz made it 2-0 in the 27th with the penalty kick and Lea Schüller got the final goal in the 82nd.
"All the interruptions are quite difficult to handle, especially emotionally, but we tried to keep calm," Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said through a translator. "Maybe they can speed up the whole process."
Players are unsure when a video review will be signaled.
"It was a bit of insecurity throughout the match because we didn't quite know what was assessed in a certain moment," Popp said. "But in general I think it's important to have this sort of assessment."
Second-ranked Germany, which has outscored opponents 9-0, plays the winner of Monday's match between Sweden and Canada on June 29 at Rennes.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Voss-Tecklenburg after the match,
"She congratulated us," Voss-Tecklenburg recalled. "She said she was very delighted."
The weeklong layoff gives time for midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsán's broken left middle toe to heal. Injured in the opening win over China on June 8, Marozsán recovered sufficiently to be available as a substitute Saturday if she had been needed.
"Based on today's physical appearance, I would say she's able to play the next match," Voss-Tecklenburg said,
The Germans, who won the tournament in 2003 and 2007, have never failed to reach the quarterfinals.
No. 38 Nigeria was in the knockout phase for the second time, the first since it lost in the quarterfinals to Brazil in 1999, and it joined Cameroon to become the first pair of African teams to reach the knockout stage in the same Women's World Cup. The Indomitable Lionesses play England on Sunday.
Popp scored on a 4-yard header off Magull's corner kick, her 48th international goal.
Däbritz scored on a low penalty kick beyond the outstretched left hand of Nnadozie, her third goal of the tournament and 13th of her international career.
Nigeria had an excellent chance to cut its deficit in the 50th when second-half substitute Rasheedat Ajibade streaked up a flank and passed to an open Desire Oparanozie, but the ball was just ahead of the forward and rolled by.
Schüller got her ninth international goal following a giveaway by Halimatu Ayinde.
The Super Falcons were missing defender Ngozi Ebere and midfielder Rita Chikwelu, who served suspensions for yellow card accumulation, and forward Asisat Oshoala, who was injured.
"I think we showed the whole world that Nigeria has a team that improved a lot," Dennerby said. "It's going the right way."
Porto Alegre, Jun 23 (AP/UNB) — Both Copa America guests are still alive as the last round of group stage matches begins, a feature that doesn't seem to please some of their South American opponents.
Qatar and Japan, who this year played in the Asian Cup final, are in third place in their groups. The top two in each group and the two best third-place finishers advance to the quarterfinals.
If Argentina is prematurely eliminated, it will be because of Qataris with little international experience who are preparing for the 2022 World Cup.
Japan sent to Brazil an under-23 team that is being groomed for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
Asian champion Qatar has so far drawn with Paraguay 2-2 and lost to Colombia 1-0.
"We have come to compete, not to take pictures, even if we admire the players of the teams we are facing," Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said on Saturday. "Our main goal is to evaluate ourselves in a tournament of this caliber, so demanding."
After winning the Asian Cup, Sanchez's contract was extended until the end of the next World Cup. On Sunday, his team will have the chance to upset Lionel Messi.
"It would be beautiful to qualify no matter if it is against a monster like Argentina," Sanchez said. "It will be a great step, even though we know they are also trying to advance to the next stage."
The Qataris have already been invited to return to next year's Copa, split between Colombia and Argentina. Australia will be a guest side in 2020.
Japan was thrashed by Chile 4-0 but held favorite Uruguay to 2-2 after leading twice. On Monday the young Japanese can eliminate Ecuador to advance and, depending on other results, possibly face host Brazil in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel is particularly upset with Japan's decision to bring its Olympic team.
"I do not agree that a guest like Japan gives due importance to its participation by coming with players that are mostly under 23," Dudamel said Saturday after Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 and qualified to the quarterfinals of Copa America.
"I raise my voice and say Copa America needs to be only for South American teams," he added. "We have not seen South American teams be invited to the African Cup of Nations, tournaments in Europe... We have to respect the hierarchy that we have historically built."
The list of Copa America guests in past editions is long: Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Canada and Japan. Mexico had the best result among those, reaching the final in 1993 and in 2001.
Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo said he doesn't like the idea of teams outside of the Americas such as Qatar and Japan playing the Copa America.
"Playing among all American teams, that is logic," Berizzo said after drawing Qatar. "We should think of a Copa America with Central and North Americas integrated. I never saw any European cup with South American teams. I strongly believe that Copa America needs to be played by American teams."
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said business was the main reason to invite teams to the Copa America.
"We are few countries in South America to organize a tournament with 10 teams, even more so with four phases like in a World Cup," Tabarez said.
Valenciennes, Jun 23 (AP/UNB) — Phil Neville doesn't seem to mind if Cameroon could have spied on his training session.
The England coach's lineup could still be hard to decipher ahead of Sunday's round of 16 meeting at the Women's World Cup.
Cameroon's staff could have had a bird's eye view of England's training session in northern France on Friday. All they had to do was get into an apartment building overlooking the Stade Municipal in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux.
"My goalkeeping coach said today there were a couple of old people ... looking out of the flats," Neville said. "Looking at our training. I hope they enjoyed it."
While the England's team is known as simply the Lionesses, Cameroon's nickname is the Indomitable Lionesses.
Maybe England should be rebranded the Unpredictable Lionessess.
Even the most experienced players can't be sure of their spots in Neville's starting lineup. Across the three group stage games — all won by England — there were 12 lineup changes,
"We pick players on their profiles, how it fits into the makeup of the team," Neville said. "I've learned that along the years. If you have one cog that's not quite right in the system, that flow of how you want to play football can't work."
Only two outfield players from the Lionesses have yet to play in France heading into Sunday's game.
"A lot has been made I do like to change my team but you imagine the opposition facing us," Neville told reporters. "You were saying about Cameroon being unpredictable. They probably won't have a clue what our team is tomorrow, our tactics. So that puts us at an advantage. The players enjoy it because everyone has a chance of playing and being involved."
Despite scoring the winner in the opening 2-1 victory over Scotland, Ellen White was rested for the 1-0 victory over Argentina but returned against Japan when seven changes were made and the forward netted both goals in a 2-0 win.
"Ellen should thank me for leaving her out against Argentina," Neville said.
But telling the players the lineup never gets easier.
"When we name the team, it is the hardest five-minute meeting you will ever have," Neville said. "You have got players that are genuinely disappointed. When you care for a set of players that does leave something on you. That's the ruthless side."
That ruthlessness means England is targeting much more than just reaching the quarterfinals. After finishing third in Canada in 2015, Neville is chasing a spot in the final — and a first major women's title for England.
"We have worked hard for 18 months on giving players opportunities, giving them experience, rotating and keeping freshness," he said. "Now it's about being ruthless and winning every game. The style of play was non-negotiable but now it is about winning and that's where me and my team have to become serial winners."
Cameroon has never won a knockout stage game at a Women's World Cup — reaching the round of 16 on its debut four years ago.
Now the lowest-ranked team remaining in France — at No. 46 — is facing FIFA's third-ranked team.
"Cameroon is gaining in strength and taking baby steps. We will be the underdogs," Cameroon coach Alain Djeumfa said. "England has some weakness. They have many weaknesses. But we don't need to list them. I have written them down and have them in my head."
FRANCE-BRAZIL: Like England, France is facing one of the third-place teams from the group stage in Brazil. The hosts could do with an easier matchup. So ruthless in the 4-0 rout of South Korea, France has struggled to live up to the highs of the opener. Back-to-back one-goal victory margins still carried France through and the hosts have only conceded once in three games.
"We lack certain efficiency," France coach Corinne Diacre said in Le Havre ahead of Sunday's game. "If we keep on having many opportunities and at the end we win the games I can be satisfied, sincerely.
RECAPPING SATURDAY: Germany advanced to the Women's World Cup quarterfinals for the eighth straight time, beating Nigeria 3-0. As has so often happened in this tournament, the game in Grenoble featured VAR disruptions. Alexandra Popp had already celebrated scoring the opener against the African champions on her 100th international appearance when the referees signaled for a video review to determine whether a German teammate was in an offside position and obstructing the goalkeeper. Popp's goal stood, and a few minutes later the match was stopped for another VAR review to determine whether Germany's Lina Magull had been fouled in the penalty area by Evelyn Nwabuoko. The penalty was awarded and Sara Däbritz scored from the spot. Lea Schüller completed the victory in the 82nd. England and Cameroon already know they are competing to play Norway in the quarterfinals. That is after Norway beat Australia 4-1 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 after 120 minutes. Australia captain Sam Kerr shot a penalty wide and Emily Gielnik had a penalty saved before Norway's Ingrid Engen hit the decisive kick.
Belo Horizonte, Jun 23 (AP/UNB) — A brace by Darwin Machis and a goal by Josef Martinez helped Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 and advance to the Copa America quarterfinals on Saturday.
Venezuela, which has never won the Copa America or qualified for a World Cup, finished Group A second to Brazil.
Peru finished third after being hammered 5-0 by the Copa America host and will have to wait for other results to know if it advances as one of the best third-placed teams.
Venezuela's opponent in the quarterfinals will be the second-placed team in Group B, either Paraguay, Qatar or Argentina.
After two goalless draws with Peru and Brazil, Venezuela knew it had to bring its most attacking formation against Bolivia at Mineirao Stadium to advance. The team also had to work without its two central defenders, Yordan Osorio and Mikel Villanueva, one affected by injury and the other by a fever. Jhon Chancellor and Luis Mago stepped up.
Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel said the team showed solidity by imposing its game against Bolivia.
"We had to work more in our defense than expected; it was a team that was hurt. And they did very well," Dudamel said. "We controlled (the match) tactically and we responded to match situations; that gives us the tranquility of knowing that we have a team and that everyone knows they are important."
Venezuela scored after only two minutes, when Machis headed a cross from Ronald Hernandez from the right. Only 4,640 people were at Mineirao Stadium to watch that moment.
The Vinotinto added a second in the 55th, Machis scoring from the edge of the box.
Leonel Justiniano reduced Bolivia's deficit in the 82nd, but Josef Martinez, who substituted Machis shortly before, secured the Venezuelan victory four minutes later with a header after a cross by Yeferson Soteldo.
Bolivia coach Eduardo Villegas was philosophical about his team's performance in its third loss at Copa America.
"We learned a lot. We came with a group of players of intermediary age and young men that earned some experience, saw what it is like to be in an international competition," he said.
Dudamel said the quarterfinals clash, no matter against whom, will inspire an even better Venezuela.
"We have shown ourselves as a more complete team each day, in every aspect," he said. "We have to keep this sequence; we will not do anything differently."
Venezuela's next match will be on Friday at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Nice, Jun 23 (AP/UNB) — Ingrid Hjelmseth proved to be a shootout hero once again as Norway beat Australia on penalties Saturday night to advance to the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup.
Hjelmseth saved Emily Gielnik's kick and Ingrid Engen, who is playing in her first World Cup, hit the decisive penalty as Norway won the shootout 4-1 after the match had finished 1-1.
Australia captain Sam Kerr, who was frustrated by Norway most of the night despite several opportunities, fired her penalty shot high and wide.
"It was a great win," Hjelmseth said. "I was just focusing and picking a side when they put the ball down. I was just telling myself, 'OK, I will go to the right,' and then I took a chance and it was good for us, it was the right side."
Hjelmseth saved two penalties in her last shootout — the semifinal of the 2013 European Championship.
"That was a good one," she said. "I think when you're a goalie you can only be a hero so it's just about picking a side and just finding the right timing to go so you don't get the VAR stuff."
Norway will face the winner of Sunday's game between England and Cameroon.
The shootout came after a game during which neither team had a clear advantage, though Norway succeeded in keeping Australia's Kerr from being much of factor. Kerr had a goal ruled out in the second half after offside was called. Australia also had two penalties denied on video review in normal time.
The game went to extra time after Australia's Elise Kellond-Knight scored from a corner to make it a 1-1 game in the 83rd minute.
Forward Isabell Herlovsen put Norway up 1-0 with a goal in the 31st.
Australia had to play the final 16 minutes of extra time at a numerical disadvantage after defender Alanna Kennedy was sent off on a red card for hauling down Norway forward Lisa-Marie Utland. Norway peppered Australia's goal but was repeatedly denied by goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
"It was tough," Kerr said. "A lot of the girls had already played a lot of minutes so we were already running on empty and then obviously Alanna getting sent off is not ideal but we stuck together. We were still confident and believing in each other but it just didn't come off tonight."
Kerr ended the tournament tied with American Alex Morgan for the most goals at five.
"Only big players can miss penalties, because small players don't take them," coach Ante Milicic said when asked what he told Kerr after the match.
Australia was thwarted in its attempt to reach the quarterfinals for a fourth straight time.
"This team had high expectations and goals coming into this tournament so to go out this way it was pretty rough and I haven't really wrapped my head around it I don't think," said defender Steph Catley, who had Australia's only successful penalty kick during the shootout. "Doesn't really feel like we're out if that makes sense. It's devastating."