Dinan-Léhon, France : Nigeria claimed a spot in the quarter-finals from Group D at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 after a 1-1 draw with China PR on Monday.
Nigeria’s 95th minute equaliser in Dinan-Lehon also eliminated China PR from the football (soccer) competition.
The East Asian side had been mere seconds away from securing a win that would have seen them claim the eighth and final place in the knockout stage, but Dou Jiaxing’s unfortunate own goal meant her side were eliminated on goal difference.
Zhang Linyan’s excellent goal put Peter Bonde’s side in the driver’s seat just before half time but they failed to hold on, extending their 12-year quarter final drought for at least two more years.
Rasheedat Ajibade helped Nigeria to a relatively strong start, but neither side genuinely threatened the goal until China PR’s Shen Mengyu rattled the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area in the 24th minute.
Peter Bonde’s charges began to ask more questions of their opponents, and Wang Linlin missed a free header in the 32nd minute, before Zhang Linyan breathed fresh life into both the match and China PR’s campaign with a moment of individual quality nine minutes later.
After receiving the ball outside the penalty area, the 17-year-old dribbled past both Mary Ologbosere and Opeyemi Sunday before sending the goalkeeper the wrong way with an unerring finish to give her side a crucial half time lead.
Having scored just one goal in 225 minutes of football in France, Nigeria’s Super Falconets now had 45 minutes to find another, but Christopher Musa’s side struggled to make inroads as the Chinese defence offered few sights at goal.
Peace Efih managed a Nigerian shot on target after finding space in the 75th minute, but it was comfortably saved by Xu Huan, before China PR’s Wang Yanwen was twice denied by desperate defending in the closing stages
Chindinma Okeke squandered what appeared to be Nigeria’s final chance from a 93rd minute corner kick, but Ajibade got on the end of a cross in the dying seconds, with Dou getting the final touch that ended China PR’s campaign.
With seconds left to play, substitute Aishat Bello’s cross from the right saw captain Rashdeedat Ajibade challenge for the ball with China right-back Jiaxing Dou. Bello’s cross struck the Chinese defender before nestling in the back of the net and sparking emotional celebrations from the West Africans at the full-time whistle.
Nigeria qualified on superior goals aggregate having rounded up their group matches on four points with China.
The Falconets had lost 0-1 to Germany and bounced back with a 1-0 victory over Haiti before playing 1-1 draw with China who desperately needed a victory.
China beat Haiti 2-1 in their first game but went down 0-2 to Germany before crashing to Nigeria in their final group match.
Nigeria’s best performance was in 2010 and 2014 editions when they won the silver medals after placing second.
Nigeria’s campaign continues with a quarter final against Group C winners Spain on Thursday, while China PR are left to ponder what might have been.
In the group’s other match on Monday, Germany finished the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup group stage with a perfect record after a 3-2 victory against Haiti at Vannes’s Stade de la Rabine.
After making it three wins from three, Maren Meinert’s team will now face Japan — who finished second in Group C — in France 2018’s quarter-finals on Aug. 17.