Rasheedat Ajibade’s dramatic equaliser in the stoppage time kept Nigeria in the U-20 Women’s World Cup courtesy of a 1-1 draw with China, yesterday.
The Falconets, thanks to their 1-0 triumph over Haiti needed a draw at least at Stade du Clos Gastel to scale through to the knockout phase.
Needing a victory to leapfrog the Nigerians 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 in 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 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.
As at the 90th minute, China looked well set to cruise into the quarter-final before captain Ajibade found a sumptuous moment to send her side through with barely the last kick of the encounter.
Nigeria will now face Group C winners, Spain for a place in the semi-final on Thursday at Stade Guy Piriou.