By JACK AMI
NIGERIA put up a gallant performance to upset Group B leaders Spain 2-1 in round three of the Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup at the PNG Football Stadium last night.
But it was sour for the Nigerians as their goal average was lower than Japan and Spain who qualified for the quarter finals.
The match was witnessed by 2032 fans on the cool and windy afternoon in the national capital.
On a cool and windy evening and in front of 2030 spectators, Spain were first to hit the net through midfielder Alba Redondo just seven minutes into the match to lead 1-0. Nigerian keeper Onyin yechukwu Okeke failed to stop the low ball.
On the 12th minute mark Ihuoma Onyebuchi caught onto a well-timed cross to confuse the Spanish defence and equalise before going into the break.
Nigeria’s concerted attacking in opposition and better ball possession in the second half only ended with several attempts going off the target
Nigeria’s second gold came in the 71st minute when captain Chinwandu Ihezuo beat two defenders to slip the ball past keeper Quinones.
In the 81st minute Nigeria’s Glory Ogbonna was sent off (red card) by the match referee Melissa Borjas for infringement over Spain’s Nahikari Garcia.
Nigeria with a player down had to work overtime in the defence but Spain’s efforts in the crucial stages were denied time and again.
Two other Nigerians Lilian Tule, Onyebuchi and Charity Ruben were yellow carded.
It was an emotional win and farewell as Nigeria’s captain Chinendu Ihezuo, named the player of the match, cried openly as her side missed out on the quarter-finals despite beating Spain.
By JACK AMI