2015 WWC – Group D: Australia 2 – Nigeria 0

18 Jun

n1A super steamy day in Winnipeg saw the Matildas of Australia face the Super Falcons from Nigeria in their first ever meeting. Turf issues were bound to be an issue as the commentators said that there was a twenty degree difference between the sunny and shady sides of the pitch. The Nigerians seemed in good form, as they sang their way through the tunnel and into the pitch.

The Australians came out rather conservatively and seemed to have trouble with Nigeria’s speed (the exception of course is Lisa DeVanna who gave the Nigerians a fair bit of trouble with her own turbo speed) but as the match wore on, Australia’s organization proved its worth as more and more of the play went the Matilda’s way. And it was DeVanna and her speed and strength who passed a great ball in the 29th minute to Kyah Simon who easily tucked it in.

The Nigerians kept up the pace but didn’t have many shots on goal in the first half. In a bit of foreshadowing Nwabuoko was carded for a high kick that caught Kerr in the face. Kerr managed to shake it off but it was a notice of things to come.

The second half started with a lot of pace from both sides and a fair share of shots taken. Between DeVanna and Oshoala, speed kept both sides a danger to each other.

WINNIPEG, MB - JUNE 12:  Lisa De Vanna #11 of Australia collides with Evelyn Nwabuoku #14 of Nigeria as they compete for a header during the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 match between Australia and Nigeria at Winnipeg Stadium on June 12, 2015 in Winnipeg, Canada.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

WINNIPEG, MB – JUNE 12: Lisa De Vanna #11 of Australia collides with Evelyn Nwabuoku #14 of Nigeria as they compete for a header during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 match between Australia and Nigeria at Winnipeg Stadium on June 12, 2015 in Winnipeg, Canada. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

But in the 68th minute, Kyah Simon struck again. This time it was Sam Kerr who delivered a good ball for Simon to put away.

Nigeria still had strong legs and gave the Australian defense a good work out but they just seemed unable to get shots on goal.

And then, you had this:

No one wants to see this kind of play on this stage. This elbow to Kerr’s jaw by Njoku was off the ball and it was nasty. None of the officials caught it, which DeVanna the ref some serious stick for, and Kerr went off for a good five minutes, clearly in a lot of pain.

N3We did get the good news from Jeff Kassouf on Sunday that FIFA retroactively punished Njoku.

Things only got uglier from the Nigerians from there. The ref should have taken a strong stand with some of the nasty fouls but didn’t. However, the four minutes of stoppage time was cut to one so perhaps that was her answer.

It’s a shame, really, because the Nigerians have shown themselves to be a much better side than we have seen in the past but this kind of ugliness leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth.

The Australians will be very pleased with the result. DeVanna continues to be their warrior and Kyah Simon’s return from injury with a good show today will give them a fair bit of confidence when they meet Sweden on Tuesday.

Here are some hightlights:

Line ups

Australia

Williams, Alleway, Catley, Kellond-Knight, Foord, Van Egmond, DeVanna, Kennedy, Simon (Heyman), Gorry (Butt), Kerr

Nigeria

Dede, Ohale (Njoku), Chukwunonye, Ebi , Ebere, Oshoala (Dike), Nwabuoku, Ayinge, Okobi, Oparanozie (Nkwocha), Ordega

Attendance: 32 716

-ForzaSusan

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