BRISBANE-Nigeria produced the first major shock of the Women’s World Cup as they stunned Australia 3-2 on Thursday to leave the co-hosts’ tournament hopes on thin ice and home fans reeling.
AsisatOshoala volleyed into an open goal in the 72nd minute to seal a deserved win for the Africans after Uchenna Kanu cancelled out Emily van Egmond’s opener on the cusp of halftime and Osinachi Ohale nudged Nigeria ahead after the break. Australia cut the deficit to one goal when Alanna Kennedy nodded home a header in the 10th minute of stoppage time but Nigeria rode out the final seconds to claim one of the finest wins in their history at the global showpiece.
The victory in front of a huge crowd at Lang Park put Nigeria top of Group B level with Canada on four points but ahead on goals scored. The 11-time African champions play eliminated Ireland in their last group match on Monday.
Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum said his players were in party mode in their changing room at Lang Park. “I think they’re still singing and dancing right now,” the American told reporters. “I can’t get in there and get a word in edge-wise. “So many people didn’t believe in me, didn’t believe in the team. The one thing we’ve done is talk about believing in one another.”
The Matildas must beat Olympic champions Canada, held to a 0-0 draw by Nigeria in their opener, to be assured of making the last 16 at a tournament where they fancied themselves among the major title threats.
Lacking talismanic striker Sam Kerr and attacker Mary Fowler through injury, Australia’s makeshift forward line peppered the Nigeria goal but saw a slew of chances fly wide and over the bar in both halves. Defensive lapses ultimately cost the hosts but coach Tony Gustavsson was reluctant to find fault.
Meanwhile, Captain Lindsey Horan scored a second-half equaliser as holders the United States came from behind to draw 1-1 with the Netherlands at the Women’s World Cup in a rematch of the 2019 final.
Portugal’s Telma Encarnacao scored one goal and set up the other in a 2-0 win over fellow Women’s World Cup debutants Vietnam, sending the Southeast Asian side out of the tournament at Waikato Stadium.
Portugal coach Francisco Neto made seven changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the Netherlands in their Group E opener and the decision paid off as first-half goals from Encarnacao and Francisca Nazareth earned them a first ever World Cup win.
Portugal are third in Group E with three points and will face the U.S. in their final group game in Auckland while Vietnam, yet to score or pick up a point, take on the Netherlands in Dunedin, with both matches on Tuesday. The U.S. are level on four points with the Dutch but top the table on goal difference after the teams drew 1-1.