Concarneau, France : Nigeria’s Falconets have been knocked out of the 2018 FIFA Women’s World Cup after losing 2-1 to Spain in Concarneau in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
Spain booked their spot in the semi-finals after first-half goals from Aitana Bonmati and Patri Guijarro.
On an overcast afternoon at the Stade Guy-Piriou in Concarneau, it was Spain that made their early advantage count by breaking the deadlock before the quarter-hour mark through captain Bonmati. Her fine left-footed shot from the edge of the Nigeria box gave goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie little chance of preventing them falling behind.
Despite a much-improved and purposeful second-half showing against the Europeans, which culminated in Peace Efih halving the deficit, the hard-fighting Falconets lacked the extra quality to complete a fightback.
Bonmati nearly had a second with a free-kick that struck the underside of the Nigerian crossbar and bounced away to safety, while Eva Navarro forced a point blank save from Nnadozie moments later.
Spain eventually doubled their lead before the break, with Guijarro scoring her fifth goal of France 2018 after getting on the end of Maite Oroz’s free-kick into the West African side’s box and scoring from close range.
Nigeria came out stronger in the second half and were rewarded for their improved display, Efih tucking into an empty net, following up Rasheedat Ajibade’s parried effort in the 57th minute.
Having struggled to create much in the first half, the Super Falconets responded with a goal just before the hour mark. Peace Efih’s forward run saw her pick out Rasheedat Ajibabe on the left. Her low shot forced a diving Catalina Coll to direct the ball into the path of an unmarked Efih, who duly converted into an empty Spanish goal.
Though they halved their deficit, Nigeria were unable to find an equaliser, as Spain saw out the remainder of the contest to reach the last four of this competition for the first time.
The game failed to produce any further goals, thus resulting in a quarter-final elimination for Nigeria, the fourth time the West Africans have been knocked out at this stage of the competition.
It was the Falconets’ ninth appearance following earlier exits in 2004, 2006 and 2008.