Following England’s devastating 6-1 win against China to top Group D, the Lionesses looked comfortable favourites to brush past Nigeria in the first round of the knockouts.
It wasn’t to be the case, as the African side showed why they deserved their spot in the last 16, forcing a lacklustre England side into a penalty shootout.
When it mattered, Nigeria couldn’t take their chance against fourth-ranked England, leaving Chloe Kelly to secure the tie 4-2.
Rollercoaster of Emotions
The Lionesses’ support continues to grow this tournament, and it was another packed-out stadium to watch the current European champs.
Stepping out at Lang Park – nicknamed ‘The Cauldron’ – England began to feel the heat when Leicester-born Ashleigh Plumptre rattled the woodwork with a shot-to-nothing from outside the box.
England failed to clear their lines, calling upon a late diving save from Mary Earps after Plumptre’s next attempt sneaked through a crowd of bodies.
The Lionesses first chance came off the back of a miscued clearance from Oluwatosin Demehin, but ‘keeper Chiamako Nnadozie got down well to Alessia Russo’s attempt.
Rachel Daly thought she had earned England a penalty in the first half, but following a VAR review the decision was overturned.
Nigeria came close to the breakthrough after the break, only for Uchenna Kanu’s looping header to fall against the crossbar.
England’s best chance of the game came when Daly’s perfectly timed run gave her a free header, but Nnadozie was there once again to parry away the effort and keep it level.
England’s frustration grew, and with it a moment of recklessness from Lauren James. The brightest spark in the group stage, her emotions spilled over as she stamped on Michelle Alozie when getting up from a challenge. A red card was inevitable, and the Lionesses were down to 10 for the rest of the game.
Heading into penalties, England’s shootout got off to the worst possible start when their trusted taker Georgia Stanway failed to hit the target.
Nigeria couldn’t capitalise, with both Desire Oparanozie and Alozie missing wildly from the spot. This left it to Daly, Alex Greenwood and finally Kelly to see the girls over the line…just.
Shiv Down Under
Taking her recovery time to the next level, Birmingham and Jamaica defender Shiv (@wolsoncoachinguk) has been out with us in Australia to soak all the action.
Following the Lionesses around the country, she’s been seeing the sights each city has to offer, as well as chatting to the fans on game day and kitting herself out in the latest from Nike from the local JD stores.
See how she got on in week two! ✌
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England’s Big Chance
England face Columbia in the quarter finals this Saturday at the Sydney Olympic Stadium. With a golden opportunity to make it to the final four, show your support for the Lionesses with the latest England shirt from our full range of WWC23 kits here!
Stay locked in for more behind-the-scenes access to the tournament by following @jdfootball across our socials.
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JD Football | November 21, 2023