The Super Falcons came from a goal down to beat Australia 3-2 in a Group B game at the 2023 Women’s World Cup on Thursday.
Emily van Egmund gave the Maltidas the advantage just a minute into added time after a poor clearance from the Nigerians. But Coach Randy Waldrum’s girls responded minutes later to level the scoreline.
Rasheedat Ajibade was the provider as Uchenna Kanu sent the ball to the back of the Australians’ post.
That strike saw both sides heading into the tunnel with the match all square. While the Australians pushed for a second goal of the day, it was the Super Falcons who scored when Osinachi Ohale headed the ball into an empty net in the 65th minute following the Australian keeper’s failure to punch away Ajibade’s header.
Before her goal, the Nigerian coach had made a double switch, bringing in Ifeoma Onumonu for Uchenna Kanu while Asisat Oshoala came on for Ester Okoronkwo.
And in less than 10 minutes after she came on, Oshoala silenced her critics, capitalising on a defensive mix-up to score her first goal of the tournament.
Despite the two-goal deficit, the Maltidas pushed on for a turn around. The tournament co-hosts surged forward as they battled to revive their campaign. But the Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was equal to the task, keeping the Australians at bay. With the last minute of added time left to play, the home team, however, got a consolation goal from Alanna Kennedy.
Seconds after her goal, Mackenzie Arnold saved an Oshoala long range effort to deny the Barcelona Femeni forward a second goal of the game.
The co-hosts staged a late fight back and put one back! But Nigeria held on to claim a 3-2 win.
Thursday’s win means Nigeria are top of the Group B standings with four points having earlier battled to a goalless draw with Canada. A draw in Nigeria’s match against Ireland on Monday will be enough to a second consecutive knockout stage place for the Africans.
The co-hosts have three points and need a win against Canada, with the hope that the Super Falcons falter against Ireland, to make the last 16.
Nigeria’s recent win make them the only African country to have so far claimed victory in the tournament. Oshoala’s strike also put in the record books as the only African to have scored in three consecutive World Cup outings.