In a thrilling encounter at the Women’s World Cup, Nigeria pulled off a stunning 3-2 victory over co-hosts Australia on Thursday, putting the home team’s chances of advancing in jeopardy.
With 49,156 fervent Australian fans filling the stadium in Brisbane, the Matildas missed a golden opportunity to secure a spot in the last 16, leaving them with a must-win final group match against Canada.
Nigeria now sits atop Group B and is set to face Ireland, a team already eliminated from the knockout stages, in their last group fixture.The first half ended with both teams level at 1-1, thanks to two stoppage-time goals.
However, it was in the second half that Nigeria took control. In the 65th minute, Osinachi Ohale headed home after Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold parried a shot into her path, putting Nigeria in the lead.
Asisat Oshoala, who came on as a substitute in the second half, capitalized on a defensive mix-up between Arnold and Alanna Kennedy, finding the net from an acute angle to extend Nigeria’s lead.
Australia managed to pull one back through Kennedy in the 10th minute of stoppage time, but it wasn’t enough to snatch a victory from the determined Nigerian side. In the first half, Australia dominated possession but struggled to break down Nigeria’s resolute defense.
Nigeria had previously frustrated Olympic champions Canada in a goalless draw, and they replicated their solid defensive performance against the Matildas. The absence of an injured Sam Kerr hindered Australia’s offensive prowess.
- Advertisement -
Australia’s perseverance finally paid off in the first minute of stoppage time when Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie’s poor goal kick was intercepted. Caitlin Foord’s low cross found Emily van Egmond, who calmly slotted the ball into the net.
However, any hopes of taking a 1-0 lead into halftime were dashed when Rasheedat Ajibade’s shot deflected into the path of Uchenna Kanu, who beat Arnold with a well-taken goal.
The second half was more evenly contested, but Australia struggled to find a breakthrough. Once Nigeria secured a two-goal lead, the home side’s chances of a comeback dwindled, despite 11 minutes of added time and Kennedy’s late goal.