Nigeria came from behind on Thursday to beat hosts Australia 3-2 and take command of Group B at the Women’s World Cup.
After dominating play for the majority of the first-half, Australia finally made their supremacy pay in stoppage time against a team 30 places beneath them in the world rankings.
Caitlin Foord picked up possession in midfield, surged down the left flank and passed into the penalty area where Emily Van Egmondorward steered the ball classily past the dive of the Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie to the delight of the partisans in the Brisbane Stadium.
But just before the half-time whistle, Uchenna Kanu drew the sides level.
And Australia never recovered. After the pause, Nigeria were the more dynamic of the outfits. Midway through the second-half, veteran defender Osinachi Ohale bundled the ball over the line to give her side the advantage.
Seven minutes after coming on for Kanu, Asisat Oshoala extended the lead in the 72nd minute after a mix-up between goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold and defender Alanna Kennedy.
Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum – criticised for his side’s performances at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco – threw on defenders to consolidate as Australia continued to create and squander chances.
Kennedy atoned for her sins deep into second-half stoppage to set up a grandstand finish. But Nigeria held on.
Nigeria will take on already eliminated Republic of Ireland on 31 July and progress to the knockout stages with a draw at Brisbane Stadium while Australia will have to overcome Canada at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
Portugal relaunched their campaign on Thursday with a 2-0 win over Vietnam.
The Portuguese – beaten 1-0 in their opening game in Group E by the Netherlands – opened the scoring after seven minutes.
Lucia Alves sped down the right wing, whipped a cross into the penalty area and Telma Encarnaca swept the ball into the net past Vietnam goalkeeper Thi Kim Tran.
After celebrating the country’s first goal in the World Cup, Portugal doubled their advantage mid way through the half as Encarnacao turned provider.
She laid the ball on to Francisca Nazareth who strode forward into the penalty area and stroked it elegantly past Tran.
“It’s not a precisely perfect night, as we could have scored more goals,” said Portugal coach Francisco Neto.
“But it’s our first victory ever, the first goals ever, it was very offensive football from our part, so there were a lot of good things as well. Our players were, above all, competent.
“We have to celebrate this victory until training time and then prepare to face the United States and do our best.”
Portugal’s win leaves the pool intriguingly balanced for that final game on 1 August.
The United States, the defending champions, and the Netherlands both have four points following their 1-1 draw in the early game in Group E.
Portugal will need a win against the US at Eden Park to qualify for the knockout stages and the Dutch will require at least a draw against Vietnam at Dunedin Stadium to confirm their passage into the last-16.
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