By ROB HARRIS AP Global Soccer Writer
VALENCIENNES, France (AP) — Steph Houghton scored on a rare free kick to set England on its way to a 3-0 victory over Cameroon on Sunday, clinching a place in the Women's World Cup quarterfinals after a game punctuated by the anger of the African team over VAR decisions.
At times during the incident-filled game in northeast France, the Cameroon players looked like they might refuse to resume playing as they protested against decisions while referee Quin Liang struggled to maintain control.
Houghton scored the first goal after the captain was set up for an indirect free kick in the penalty area in the 14th minute.
Ellen White added to the lead in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time with a goal only awarded after an offside call was overruled on a video review.
Cameroon players were seething again when they were denied a goal at the start of the second half when another offside VAR review went against the lowest-ranked team remaining in the competition.
England, which finished third in the 2015 tournament, pulled further ahead in the 58th minute when Alex Greenwood swept in from a corner.
England will next play Norway in the quarterfinals on Thursday in Le Havre.
An unusual opening goal set the tone for a game of remarkable moments at Stade du Hainaut.
When White crossed from the left flank to Duggan, Augustine Ejangue intercepted and passed back to her goalkeeper, Annette Ngo Ndom.
The indirect free kick was awarded, sparking anger among Cameroon players.
Ejangue was caught on camera spitting toward Toni Duggan but she faced no repercussions, even with VAR available to review the incident which could have resulted in a red card.
So Cameroon still had all 11 players to pack onto the goal line. It wasn't enough.
Duggan teed up Houghton on the six-meter box for the shot that Ngo Ndom got a touch on but Ejangue couldn't block on the far post.
During first-half stoppage time, right back Lucy Bronze cut into a central position and slipped the ball through to White, who put the ball in the net.
The flag went up for offside, but the celebrations were only delayed. White was given her fourth goal in three matches at this tournament.
When stadium big screens showed the offside decision, Cameroon players were pointing up, apparently bemused by the call to allow the goal.
As Cameroon's players remained in a huddle protesting, the referee delayed the restart. The game eventually resumed, briefly, before halftime. As the England players headed down the tunnel, their opponents remained on the field to complain to the officials and then to huddle together.
The anger lingered into the second half.
Cameroon thought it had scored inside four minutes of the restart when Ajara Nchout put the ball in the net. Again, celebrations began before she was stopped in her tracks for a VAR review.
Gabrielle Onguene was determined to be in an offside position when Nchout received the ball. Denied a goal, Nchout held her head in her hands and cried.
The playmaker had to be comforted by manager Alain Djeumfa. Again, the Cameroonians looked like they didn't want to resume playing.
England scored a third time in the 58th minute.
A low corner was sent by Dugan to the onrushing Greenwood, who was left unmarked to sweep the ball into the net minutes after her sloppy back pass nearly gave Cameroon a goal.