‘We were unlucky with the England match’ – Falcon’s coach
England scraped into the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup when they beat Nigeria 4-2 in penalties in Brisbane on Monday.
Despite Nigeria having the better of the chances throughout, the European Champions — reduced to 10 players after 87 minutes — snuck home in front of 50,000 spectators after the match had finished 0-0 at the end of extra time
England held on after playmaker Lauren James received a red card for a needless stamp and will know they have to improve if they want to add the World Cup to their European crown.
They will face Colombia or Jamaica on Saturday for a place in the semi-finals.
England got off to a terrible start in the penalty shootout when Georgia Stanway fired wide, but Desire Oparanozie couldn’t take advantage and missed with an almost identical effort.
Beth England made no mistake, but Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie shot way over top to give England an advantage they never surrendered, sealing the win when Chloe Kelly calmly converted.
The Nigerians, however, have shown in this World Cup that they have the game to challenge anybody.
They stunned hosts Australia in the group stage, taking advantage of their speed in the transition to score a 3-2 win.
And they employed the same tactics against England, whose back three were regularly exposed by the Nigerian attack.
England had started the match strongly and rattled Nigeria in the opening skirmishes as the Lionesses found plenty of space out wide.
They also controlled possession, completing 173 passes in the first half to Nigeria’s 83.
But it was the Nigerians who looked the most dangerous and they gave the European champions a real fright on a number of occasions.
England-born Ashleigh Plumptre had two golden chances to open the scoring, the first coming in the 16th minute when a strike from outside the box crashed into the crossbar.
A minute later she forced a fine diving save from Mary Earps.
The Nigerians had eight shots at goal in the first half, three more than England, whose best chance fell to Alessia Russo in the 23rd minute.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first, England dominating possession but Nigeria looking the more dangerous.
England had a golden chance to seal the match with 15 minutes left only for Chiamaka Nnadozie to pull off a fine save from Rachel Daly’s powerful header.
The game inevitably went to extra time and again Nigeria looked most likely, Michele Alozie and Oshoala both going close, but neither team could break the deadlock.
‘We were unlucky with the England match’- Coach
Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum has said his side were unlucky against the English in the round of 16 match at Brisbane.
England survived the sending-off of Lauren James to scrape past Nigeria on penalties Monday
Chloe Kelly scored the winning penalty in Brisbane as England beat the Super Falcons 4-2 in the shoot-out after a tense last-16 tie finished 0-0 at the end of extra time.
Speaking in a post-match interview, the American rued the missed chances against the Lionesses.
“We had every opportunity to get the result and unfortunately we didn’t get it done,” said Waldrum.
“I think we could have (won it in 90 minutes). We had the best chances, we hit the crossbar twice in regulation play. We were a bit unlucky not to get something out of it.”
Nigeria’s impressive run at the Women’s World Cup may have come to an end but the 56-year-old insisted their performances had made the football world sit up and take notice.
“They’ve been fantastic the whole tournament,” he said.
“I said to them after the game, we’ve not lost a game realistically (outside the penalty shootout).
“We’ve played against the Olympic gold medallists (Canada), the European champions (England) and we kept a clean sheet in both of those games.
“We played the host nation (Australia) and Ireland, who are in the top 20, and we didn’t lose.”
Waldrum said Nigeria’s performances, alongside those of South Africa and Morocco, should shine a light on African football.
“South Africa was exceptional in their run as well and you saw they created a lot of problems for the Netherlands yesterday,” he said.
“I hope what we’ve done is show the rest of the world that football in Africa is relevant.
“I hope people have seen that there is talent there and that we have the ability, and with a little structure and a little organisation, and a commitment to provide the resources that we need, hopefully, people see that we can be a major player on the world stage.”
Waldrum said the most important thing was for Nigeria not to lose the momentum they have developed in Australia.
“We don’t want to take the success and now not continue to move forward when we get back to Nigeria,” the coach added.
Waldrum said if South Africa were to win the right to host the next Women’s World Cup, it would be a vital step in the sport’s growth on the continent.
“I think it would be a great opportunity and it would do wonders for football in Africa,” he said.
“For all the nations, for all the young players, to come and see an environment like we have seen in Australia would be massive for all the young women aspiring to play for their countries.”
It was a feverish first half in Brisbane in which Nigeria were the better side from the start. Michelle Alozie’s bullet header was met by an equally-powerful headed clearance from Alessia Russo. Former Leicester defender Ashleigh Plumptre then hit the crossbar with a superb hit, before her follow-up effort was pushed away by Mary Earps.
England will play either Colombia or Jamaica in the last eight on Saturday, but they got there the hard way.Follow us on social media