Nigeria’s Falconets came from behind to see off a hard-fighting Spanish side 2-1 in the final day group match on Sunday at the on-going Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
The heroic performance at the PNG Football Stadium in Port Moresby counted for nothing as the 2014 finalists crashed out of the biennial football showpiece courtesy of the heavy 0-6 loss to Japan in the group’s opening match day one clash.
The Nigerians’ helplessness was further compounded by Canada’s 0-5 loss to the Asian giants, Japan, in Sunday’s matchday 3 clash at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.
Alba Redondo gave the European side the lead in the seventh minute, pushing the ball to the far end of the post beyond the reach of the Nigerian goalkeeper, Onyinyechukwu Okeke.
However, the deficit goal turned out to be the tonic the Nigerians needed to fight themselves back into contention and five minutes after Ihuoma Onyebuchi found herself in the right spot inside the box to tap in the ball to even scores for her side going into the break with all squared.
A double substitution by the Nigerian head coach, Peter Dedevbo, which saw the duo, Aminat Yakubu and Yetunde Adeboyejo take the positions of Charity Reuben and Ogechi Ukwuoma helped greatly to strengthen the attack of the Nigerians.
Adeboyejo’s presence almost yielded a positive result. After rounding the Spanish goalkeeper, her kick narrowly missed the target.
The Nigerians’ dominance in the game at this point in time was no more in doubt as the fine combination of whiz kid Rasheedat Ajibade, captain Chinwendu Ihezuo and Aminat Yakubu made life unbearable for the European side.
Nigeria was rewarded with a flip in the middle from Ajibade which found Ihezuo, who muscled her way from two markers to beat the onrushing Spanish goalkeeper for the second goal.
With the second bookable offence, which saw Glory Ogbonna being sent off the pitch, the Nigerians held on to their lead till the end, though ineffective as the side booked their exit from the championship.
Japan and Spain go through to the knockout stage of the championship as Nigeria, though level on points, exited with inferior goal difference.