Brisbane: Second-half goals from Osinachi Ohale and Asisat Oshoala gave Nigeria a stunning 3-2 win over Australia at the Women’s World Cup on Thursday to leave the co-hosts in danger of an early exit.
In front of 49,156 fans in Brisbane the Matildas missed a golden chance to reach the last 16 and instead now face a must-win final group game against Canada.
In contrast, Nigeria top Group B and play Ireland — who are already out of contention — with the knockout rounds in sight.
Captain Steph Catley felt that the Australians — who actually took the lead and dominated in the first half — had enough chances to win the game.
But she conceded: “They were great on the counter and they finished their chances. We’ve just got think to Canada now.
“A lot of things (went wrong). We weren’t patient enough at times and we weren’t clinical enough,” she told Optus Sport.
“We had a lot of set pieces tonight that usually maybe one or two go in.
“We’ve just got to move on as quick as possible because this is what World Cups are about.
“Our backs are up against the wall now, and it’s not how we would have liked it, but nothing good comes easy.”
A Nigeria win seemed improbable after a first period which Australia dominated, although they struggled to break down the Super Falcons’ defence.
Nigeria frustrated Olympic champions Canada in their opening 0-0 draw and did the same to the Matildas, who lacked the penetration that the injured duo of Sam Kerr and Mary Fowler would have given them.
Australia finally got reward for their dominance in the first minute of stoppage time when a poor goal kick from Nigerian keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was picked off and Caitlin Foord’s low cross was met by Emily van Egmond, who calmly slotted the ball into the net.
But any hopes of taking a 1-0 lead into the break were dashed in the last play of the half.
Rasheedat Ajibade cut inside and her shot deflected into the path of Uchenna Kanu, who beat Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold with a prodded finish at the back post.
Ohale put Nigeria in front in the 65th minute when she headed home after Arnold could only parry a shot into her path.
Barcelona’s Oshoala, who came on as a replacement after half-time, then took advantage of a mix-up between Arnold and defender Alanna Kennedy to get between them and fire home from an acute angle.
Australia got one back through Kennedy in the 10th minute of stoppage time but the Nigerians held on for a famous victory.