In a highly captivating encounter, Nigeria staged a remarkable comeback to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory against Australia in their second Group B game of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup at the Brisbane Stadium (Brisbane) on Thursday afternoon, Abbeylivenetwork.com reports.
The Super Falcons, determined to boost their chances of qualifying for the round of 16, faced the challenge of not having their star player, Asisat Oshoala, in the lineup.
Her absence significantly altered the team’s dynamics, as she is known for providing a crucial outlet in their attacking play.
First Emily Van Egmond scored with a nicely placed shot past full stretched Chiamaka Nnadozie to put Australia in front on the stroke of half-time.
Nigeria immediately pressed forward and got an equalizer in stoppage time through Uchenna Kanu off a deflected Rasheedat Ajibade shot.
So it finished Australia 1-1 Nigeria at the break.
As the second half commenced, both teams emerged with determination to seize control of the match.
In the 65th minute the Falcons went 2-1 thanks to Ohale who headed into an empty net after the opposition keeper failed to properly punch away a header across goal.
In the 72nd minute, Nigeria extended their lead through Asisat Oshoala. Mackenzie Arnold found herself in no-man’s land as she attempted to clear a ball over the top, leaving substitute Oshoala with a tough angle to score from.
There was additional 11 minutes following long halts due to injuries to Ohale and Ayinde.
The hosts took advantage of this and scored in the 10th minute of added time.
Australia pressed for an equalizer but were resisted by the Nigerian ladies who held until Kenndy headed in for 2-3.
Ultimately, Nigeria’s spirited performance and resilience led them to a remarkable 3-2 victory, coming from behind to secure a crucial win.
Australia starting lineup (4-4-1-1, right to left): 18-Arnold (GK) — 21-Carpenter, 14-Kennedy, 15-Hunt, 7-Catley — 16-Raso (Chidiac 85′), 19-Gorry, 23-Cooney-Cross, 5-Vine (Polkinghorne 82′)— 10-Van Egmond — 9-Foord.
Nigeria starting lineup (4-2-3-1, right to left): 16-Nnadozie (GK) — 22-Alozie, 3-Ohale, 14-Demehin, 2-Plumptre (Ogbonna 76′)— 10-Uchiebe, 22-Ayinde (Echegini 76′) — 12-Kanu (Okornokowo 63′), 7-Payne (Ebi 90′), 18-Ajibade — 6-Onumonu (Oshoala 63′).
Magical afternoon for Nigeria
They were under the pump in the first half, with Australia creating multiple chances and having 15 corners in the match, and many could have been forgiven for thinking Australia’s opening goal would have taken the stuffing out of the African side.
But the Super Falcons hit back instantly with the last kick of the opening half, giving them momentum to go on and score twice in a clinical second half.
Unlike the wasteful Matildas, Nigeria were able to score from the second phase of a corner, taking advantage of slack marking, and the move to bring Asisat Oshoala off the bench was a masterstroke, as she reacted quickest to a loose ball to punish Australia.
Nigeria earned plaudits for holding the Olympic champions to a 0-0 draw, they have now recorded their best victory in their history, and could just qualify for the Round of 16 in the ‘group of death.
Australia under pressure ahead of must win match against Olympic champions Canada
This is a worst case scenario for Australia, as they now must win against Canada to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the Round of 16.
It was a poor second half performance, with the side clunky in attack and stifled comfortably by Nigeria’s defence.
Yes, they have been gutted by injury and may be without Sam Kerr against Canada, but Australia came into the tournament on a brilliant run of form, and the noise coming out of the camp was how this side did not need Kerr to perform at their best.
They are now 90 minutes away from the ignominy of being the first Women’s World Cup host nation to fail to make it out of the group, and they will have to beat a revitalised Canada side fresh off a win.