Nigeria deservedly took a point from England in Augsburg as the teams began their campaign in Group C of the FIFA U-20 Women´s World Cup Germany 2010 by battling to a 1-1 draw.
In a physical encounter, England found the sweltering conditions tough going and that enabled the African nation – who are regulars at this event – to finish strongly.
The early exchanges saw Jane Moore go close for Mo Marley’s side while Nigeria preferred to rely on their strong defence and counter-attack. In the 25th minute Esther Sunday had a great opportunity as the ball came back to her in the area but goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer was equal to it. It signalled a bout of Nigeria pressure with Desire Oparanozie failing to convert and Glory Iroka coming close.
But just as Nigeria seemed to be getting on top, England took the lead. Jordan Nobbs was put through for a one-on-one with the goalkeeper but defender Osinache Ohale was able to clear. The danger hadn´t passed however with Kerys Harrop’s header at the back post exploiting a mistake by the keeper.
There were chances for Oparanozie and Ebere Orji at the start of the second half as Nigeria really began to press, two great Oparanozie runs failing to bring the scores level. However the pressure was bound to tell eventually and on the hour came a deserved equalizer for Adat Egan´s team. This time the surge came from Orji and from her centre, Oparanozie shot towards goal. Spencer got a hand to it but couldn’t prevent the ball rolling over the line.
After that Nigeria looked the more likely winners but England stayed disciplined in defence. Always, though, with a close eye on the dangerous Oparanozie though.
With a point apiece, both teams will be looking for a maximum haul in their next outing when England take on Mexico while Nigeria face Japan. Both games are on Saturday in Augsburg.