A late winner from Perpetua Nkwocha has seen Nigeria defeat Canada 1-0 in an action-packed encounter and claim their FIFA Women’s World Cup™ win since 1999.
Canada coach Carolina Morace rang the changes for the match with goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc coming in for Erin McLeod, while Marie-Eve Nault and Melissa Tancredi started ahead of Brittany Timko and Christina Julien.
The north Americans started well creating several openings most notably with Jonelle Filigno bursting into the penalty area, but she was unable to overcome goalkeeper Precious Dede who claimed the ball.
The match then kicked into gear and approaching the 20-minute mark, there was a great chance for Nigeria with Ebere Orji sending a powerful effort on goal, which LeBlanc blocked but Rita Chikwelu was unable to convert the follow up.
However a few minutes later it was Canada in attack and a ball from deep was headed onto the left post by Melissa Tancredi.
Within minutes it was the turn of Nigeria’s Ebere Orji to hit the post, this time with a close-range effort.
The woodwork yet again ensured the match remained scoreless at the interval. This time Stella Mbachu passed from the right into the middle but Perpetua Nkwocha was unable to grasp the opportunity.
The early stages of the second half saw Canada striker Christine Sinclair, again wearing a face mark following the broken nose she suffered in the tournament opener against Germany, hit a shot from inside the penalty area but Helen Ukaounu blocked the ball.
With just under 20 minutes to go, the lights at the stadium in Dresden went out necessitating a delay of around ten minutes.
The delay perhaps suited Nigeria as Nkwocha scored what proved to be the winner in the 84th minute as the Nigerian attacker somewhat fortuitously collected a deflected shot from Glory Iroka to convert.
There was still time for Sinclair to be denied by the outstretched leg of Dede but it was to be Nigeria’s night and they held on throughout a lengthy period of stoppage time.
Player of the match: Stella Mbachu (Nigeria)