FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup: Nigeria sinks Chile 2-1, makes it to last eight

Chile got a ray of hope in the dying minutes but fell short to a defensively organised Nigeria and crashed out of the tournament.

Nigeria’s Blessing Emmanuel (8) celebrates with her teammates after scoring a goal against Chile.

Nigeria’s Blessing Emmanuel (8) celebrates with her teammates after scoring a goal against Chile. | Photo Credit: Swapan Mahapatra

Chile got a ray of hope in the dying minutes but fell short to a defensively organised Nigeria and crashed out of the tournament.

Nigeria secured a spot in the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after it beat Chile 2-1 in its final group-stage game at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, on Monday.

The young Super Falcons – who has played in every edition of the tournament except 2018 – look set to redeem itself in style as it made a fourth quarterfinal in six appearances (2010, 2012 and 2014).

Nigeria started attacking right from kick-off – playing high press football, with Ajakaye Opeyemi and Amina Bello leading the attack in a 4-4-2 formation.

Opeyemi, the player of the match in Nigeria’s 3-1 win over New Zealand, started where she left off, and orchestrated her side’s first goal against Chile.

In the fourth minute, an attack – starting from a throw-in on the left wing – saw Opeyemi get to the ball inside the box and deliver a clinical pass to Emmanuel Blessing after nutmegging Chile’s Emma Gonzalez.

Blessing – starting as the team captain for the first time in the World Cup – buried the ball in the bottom left corner.

Nigeria nearly doubled the lead in the 28th minute with Opeyemi at the heart of the attack again.

Building from the back, Opeyemi made a run along the right flank, cut to her left and took a shot. The Chile goalkeeper Catalina Alvarado could not keep the ball and it fell for Amina Bello. Bello’s header, though on target, was denied by a goal line clearance by Monserrat and the Chilean camp breathed a sigh of relief.

Chile’s attacking play, on the other hand, was a culmination of misplaced passes. Bankole Olowookere’s (Nigeria’s head coach) side, playing with individual marking, intercepted every forward pass, and did not concede a single shot on target in the first half.

In the second half, Nigeria continued to shower attacks with Opeyemi hitting the bar once (73rd minute) and Bello forcing two great saves from Alvarado (69’, 79’).

The second breakthrough came in the 82nd minute when Miracle Usani’s free kick from the right was headed home by Bisola Mosaku, as the smiling Nigerian head coach saluted the team’s effort.

Chile got a ray of hope in the dying minutes of the match when Anais Cifuentes’ cross from the right fell for Ambar Figueroa in the penalty box, after a touch from Rachel Ramirez. Figueroa’s shot was deflected off the left hand of Omamuzo Edafe and the referee Ferrieri Maria, after a VAR check, pointed to the spot.

Tali Rovner converted the opportunity with a left-footed shot in injury time, but  La Roja – needing two more goals to secure its place in the quarterfinals – fell short to a defensively organised Nigeria, leaving the field in tears.

MATCH RESULT: Nigeria 2 (Blessing 4’, Mosaku 82’) beat Chile 1 (Rovner 90+1’ (P))

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