England trembled into the quarter-finals at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The European champions beat Nigeria 4-2 on penalties in Brisbane on Monday (07.08.2023).
The score was 0-0 after regulation time and extra time. The “Lionesses” showed a mixed performance and were lucky that the Africans were too inconsistent in finalizing their attacks. In the round of eight, Britain now meet the winners of Colombia-Jamaica. Both outsiders meet in Melbourne on Tuesday (08.08.2023, 10 a.m. CEST, in the live ticker at sportschau.de).
Nigeria convinces with tactical variability
For the highly favored English women, the duel with the eleven-time African champions was a complicated task from the start. The big problem for the Europeans was primarily to see through the opponent’s tactics. Because sometimes the “Super Falcons” locked themselves in their own half, sometimes they ran into the “Lionesses” in their penalty area. The team coached by Sarina Wiegman-Glotzbach only managed to pacify the game and exercise dominance in very few phases in the first half.
A lot of piecework remained playful with the European champions before the break. Actually too much for a tournament favourite. The return of defensive strategist Keira Walsh initially only had a limited positive impact. The 26-year-old, who was injured in the second group game against Denmark and then trained with the team again, was surprisingly in the starting line-up.
“Super Falcons” with the better odds
The Nigerians were initially the more dangerous side, even without star striker Asisat Oshoala, who was initially injured on the bench. Michelle Alozie had the first chance of the game with a header – Alessia Russo was just able to clear in front of the line (13′). 180 seconds later, only centimeters were missing for one of those stories that supposedly only writes football: Ashleigh Plumptre, born in England with a Nigerian grandfather, hit the crossbar with a shot from 17 meters. Shortly thereafter, the defender who was looking for a club also failed because of keeper Mary Earps (17th).
Russo forgives England’s lead
England already needed the help of the opponent to come to the first significant conclusion. After a ricochet from Glory Ogbonna, Russo actually had a clear path. But instead of running towards the goal, the striker immediately fired. And not particularly well – keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was able to parry (23′).
Nevertheless, the chance was a kind of initial spark for the British. After that, the favorites got the events under control a little better, but without becoming much more compelling in the offensive actions.
Referee takes back penalty
A free-kick from Alex Greenwood and an unfortunate goal, to put it mildly, by Rasheedat Ajibade into Rachel Daly gave the Europeans a temporary boost in hopes of taking the lead. Because referee Melissa Paola Borjas Pastrana not only has three first names, but also two very good eyes. So the referee sanctioned the blue-haired Nigerian’s textile test, including the shove, with a penalty kick.
A perfectly understandable decision, even if Ajibade was certainly not intended to cause serious bodily harm in this duel. The fact that Daly apparently wanted to apply for an engagement with a theater and fell very theatrically was completely unnecessary and might have been her downfall.
Because after viewing the moving image, the referee withdrew her decision (34th). So it remained at 0:0, which also lasted at halftime.
Canoe fails on aluminum
Even after the change of sides, the paying spectators in Brisbane and on various devices around the world saw a duel at eye level, in which the Nigerian Uchenna Kanu made the aluminum tremble for the second time on this cool Australian evening (47th). The Africans remained dangerous afterwards – and an extremely unpleasant opponent because they were tactically extremely disciplined and very present in the duels.
James sees a red card
England’s offensive efforts remained largely efforts with the exception of a Daly header which Nnadozie saved (76′). There was not a trace of Lauren James, who was acclaimed after her previously unquestionably great World Cup appearances. The attacker was sometimes not seen for a long time. The frustration of the 21-year-old was great, as was shown in the 84th minute when she fell after a challenge with Alozie, did not get a free kick and then kicked her opponent in the buttocks with the studs when she got up.
Referee Pastrana looked at the scene again on the screen and came to the only right decision: Red card for James (87th). Regulation time soon ended goalless, so extra time went to play.
Nigeria dominant but harmless
Nigeria were not only outnumbered, but also looked physically and mentally fresher than the favourites. The Africans pushed for the 1-0 but were still not compelling enough in the last third of the field despite the substitution of Barcelona forward Oshoala midway through the second half. A shot by Oshoala, which didn’t pose any major problems for Earps (117′), was the best chance for the Africans, who were dominant after being sent off, in the extra time.
England with better nerves in penalties
The penalty shoot-out had to bring the decision. And this began with missed shots by Munich’s Georgia Stanway and former Wolfsburg player Desire Oparanozie. Beth then converted England for the Lionesses while Alozie chased the ball into Brisbane’s evening sky. Then Daly and Greenwood scored for England and Ajibade and Christy Ucheibe for Nigeria, allowing Chloe Kelly to decide the game in the Europeans’ favor at 3-2. And the substitute forward kept her nerve and shot her team into the last eight.