A late winner from Perpetua Nkwocha helped Nigeria defeat Canada 1-0 in an action-packed encounter and claim their first FIFA Women’s World Cup win since 1999.
Canada coach Carolina Morace rang the changes for the match, with goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc coming in for former Vancouver Whitecaps FC shot-stopper Erin McLeod, while Marie-Eve Nault and ex-'Caps striker Melissa Tancredi started ahead of Brittany Timko and Christina Julien.
The North Americans started well creating several openings, most notably with Jonelle Filigno bursting into the penalty area, but unable to overcome goalkeeper Precious Dede, who claimed the ball.
The match then kicked into gear and approaching the 20-minute mark, there was a great chance for Nigeria, with Ebere Orji sending a powerful effort on goal, which LeBlanc blocked but Rita Chikwelu was unable to convert the follow up. However, a few minutes later, it was Canada’s turn and a ball from deep is headed into the left post by Tancredi.
Within minutes, it was the turn of Nigeria’s Orji to hit the post, this time with a close-range effort.
The woodwork yet again ensured the match was scoreless at the interval. This time, Stella Mbachu passed from the right into the middle, but Nkwocha was unable to grasp the opportunity.
The early stages of the second half saw Canada striker Christine Sinclair, again wearing a face mask following the broken nose she suffered in the tournament opener against Germany, hit a shot from inside the penalty, but Helen Ukaounu blocked the ball.
With just under 20 minutes to go, the lights at the stadium in Dresden, Germany, went out - necessitating a delay of around ten minutes.
The delay perhaps suited Nigeria, as Nkwocha scored what proved to be the winner in the 84th minute, as the Nigerian attacker collected a deflected shot from Glory Iroka to convert.
There was still time for Sinclair to be denied by the outstretched leg of Dede, but it was to be Nigeria’s night and they held on throughout a lengthy period of time added on.