European champions, England secured a 4-2 win on penalties over Nigeria’s senior women’s national team after a 0-0 in regulation time in the Round of 16 clash at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Brisbane on Monday.
Tournament football is about results and not necessarily performances, and England progressed to the quarter-final despite receiving an almighty scare from a stubborn Nigeria side who will be wondering how they are not the nation who are advancing.
The Super Falcons twice hit the woodwork, through Ashleigh Plumptre and then Uchenna Kanu, and were much the better side even before Lauren James saw red for a petulant stamp on Michelle Alozie late in normal time.
Randy Waldrum’s side continued to threaten in extra-time, but they were made to pay for their profligacy as England saw it through to penalties, where Desire Oparanozie and Alozie missed the target with their spot-kicks before Chloe Kelly slammed home to send the European champions through.
Sarina Wiegman will be thrilled with the guts and determination her team showed to get them over the line, but England will have real concerns ahead of their next game after being pushed all the way by Nigeria.
With Germany and the United States of America (USA ) out, Japan are the only nation left in this edition of the World Cup that has won it previously, and maybe the stars are aligning for the Lionesses to claim international football’s top prize for the first time.
For Nigeria, they will be bitterly disappointed not to have made it through, but they should take a lot of positives as they pushed one of the tournament favourites to the brink of defeat with a brilliant, albeit wasteful, display.