My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
Fans were treated to an incredible match as Sweden and Nigeria played out a 3-3 draw in the first game of the Group of Death. Sweden’s main threat came from Therese Sjögran’s corners, and both their first half goals came first Desire Oparanozie’s own goal, and then from Nilla Fischer’s tap-in. But Nigeria came out roaring in the second half, and with three minutes they had equalised. Their first goal came from Ngozi Okobi before Asisat Oshoala scored a calm effort.
In the 60th minute, Sweden had restored their lead after a quick team move was converted by Lisa Sembrant. But Nigeria kept on coming, and in the 87th minute they deservedly equalised when Francisa Ordega converted a one-on-one by nutmegging the keeper.
Nigeria had the game’s first chance from a free-kick on the edge of the box, but Ngozi Ebere’s driven free-kick was well caught by Hedvig Lindahl.
Sweden showed the danger they posed from corners. Lina Nillson’s corner was headed over by Emma Berglund. Then Therese Sjögran’s first corner was punched clear by Precious Dede, and then Sjögran’s cross was punched uncertainly by Dede – but Kosovare Asllani couldn’t trouble the goal with her overhead lob.
Nigeria’s pace were causing Sweden’s defence nightmares, but each time they got down the wings, their final ball was lacking.
And then Sweden took the lead, and it was unfortunate to say the least. Sjögran’s corner was flicked on by Nilla Fischer onto Desire Oparanozie’s chest and over the line.
Nigeria had a couple of chances to get an immediate equaliser, but each time Halimat Ayinde’s efforts failed to hit the target. And then Asisat Oshoala’s pace took the ball away from Sjögran and into the box, but her shot just goes wide of the far post. Then, from a free-kick just inside the “D”, Ngozi Ebere’s first shot hit the wall, before her second went narrowly wide.
But Sweden then doubled their lead, from a corner needlessly given away. Sjögran’s delivery was brilliant, and the ball had to be cleared off the line by Ebere. The ball fell to Lotta Schelin, whose shot was going wide, but Nilla Fischer was in the right place to divert the ball into the net.
On the stroke of half-time, Nigeria reminded Sweden of their threat. Oshoala’s delightful diagonal pass split the Swedish defence to pick out Oparanozie, but she is put off by Fischer’s sliding tackle.
But within five minutes of the second half, Nigeria had pulled a goal back. Oparanozie’s cross picked out Ngozi Okobi, whose first touch took her away from her defenders before her second touch fired the ball past the keeper.
Three minutes, they had equalised. Okobi played a delightful long pass towards Asisat Oshoala who held of Ficher’s challenge, before dinking the ball over Lindahl. An outstanding goal from BBC’s 2015 Women’s World Player of the Year.
However, on the hour mark, Sweden restored their lead. A surging run by Lisa Nilsson, aided by a couple of passes in the box, saw her break to the byline, and she curled the ball across the six-yard box and it hit Lisa Sembrant’s thigh and into the far corner.
Nigeria kept on coming though, and should have scored in the 69th minute. Oparanozie superbly broke down the left, and she drove the ball across the box to Ayinde, whose shot slipped up Lindahl’s body to Okobi. Her shot was incredibly blocked by Berglund, and her clearance brushed off Oshoala and wide.
Then, Oparanozie’s long-range effort forced Lindahl into a parried save. Despite parrying the ball only a couple of centimetres away, Oshoala sprinted quickly and nearly managed to score the tap-in.
But in the 87th minute, Nigeria got their deserved equaliser. Okobi’s long pass split the Swedish centre-backs to Ordega, who then cheekily placed the ball in between Lindahl’s legs.
In the end, Nigeria could not get the winner their play and effort deserved.
Woman of the Match
I am going for Asisat Oshoala, whose creativity and speed was key to Nigeria’s performance and scored their second goal.
Sweden: Lindahl, Rubensson, Fischer, Berglund (Ilestedt 73), Nilsson, Asllani (Schough 46), Seger (c), Dahlkvist (Sembrant), Sjögran, Schelin, Jakobsson.
Goals: Oparanozie (og 21), Fischer (31), Sembrant (60).
Nigeria: Dede, Ohale, Chukwunonye, Ebi, Ebere, Oshoala, Nwabuoku (c), Ayinde, Okobi, Ordega, Oparanozie.
Goals: Okobi (50), Oshoala (53), Ordega (87)