By Owolabi Abiola/First Zeal Media
Nigeria got a stoppage-time goal from captain Rasheedat Ajibade to earn a highly-dramatic 1-1 draw with China PR in Dinan-Lehon and claim a spot in the quarter-finals at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 from Group D.
Needing a victory to leapfrog the West Africans to the runners-up spot in the group, China were the more dangerous side in the first half at the Stade du Clos Gastel. Mengyu Shen had the first chance of the match on 25 minutes when she hit the Nigeria crossbar. A few minutes later, captain Linlin Wang headed over the target from close range.
China’s breakthrough came four minutes before half-time, as the diminutive Linyan Zhang turned her Nigerian marker in the box and stroked the ball past a diving Chiamaka Nnadozie to give the Asians the lead at the break.
The Super Falconets pushed hard in search of an equaliser in the second half, but found the China backline and goalkeeper Huan Xu in resilient form until the end of the contest. Ajibade became Nigeria’s hero when she turned home Aishat Bello’s cross at the near post. The goal sparked celebrations from the West Africans at the full-time whistle.