Nigeria came from behind to seal their first-ever win over England at the U-20 level early Thursday morning (Nigerian time) and finish first in Group C of the Fifa World Cup.
Loveth Ayila’s and Asisat Oshoala’s goals, following a Nikita Parris early opener at the Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, helped the Super Falconets claim a sixth successive quarter-finals berth and top Group C with seven points.
The win means the coach Peter Dedevbo-led ladies will remain in Moncton, where they’ve played most of their group phase matches and will tackle knock-out stage debutantes New Zealand on Sunday.
The Three Lionesses have now equaled the record for most winless streak- joining Switzerland-, having lost four and drawn five of their last nine U-20 Women’s World Cup matches. Their last three points came in a win over hosts Chile in the 2008 tournament.
Victory was of utmost priority for the West Africans, who in two prior cup games against England had recorded 1-1 draw apiece (2008 and 2010) and knew anything short of a draw could be deadly, with all three of their foes having a chance to progress to the next stage.
After setting for conquest with an un-impressive start, Nigeria were stunned within five minutes of kick-off as Hannah Blundell delivered a beautiful through pass to 20-year-old Parris, who controlled the ball with her first touch and then clipped her shot past an onrushing Sandra Chiihii from the edge of the area.
Nigeria are yet to fail to score in the opening so far in the tournament, and with just four minutes to the interval former U-17 forward, Ayila, beat her marker with a clever cut-back before taking aim from 25-yards; even goalkeeper Lizzie Durack’s outstretched hand could not prevent from hitting the desired target.
England’s Bethany Mead almost restored her country’s lead early into the second-half but missed from 12-yards, after goalkeeper Chichii had impeded Parris.
Oshoala, 20, was then hacked down after dribbling her way into the opponents’ goal area.
The experienced Super Falcons striker stepped up to neatly bury the ball inside the net.
Durack’s heroic and the crossbar prevented England from further havoc, as the African champions threw kitchen sink and cutlery at the Lionesses goal.
Elsewhere in the group, Mexico beat South Korea to join Nigeria in quarter-finals.