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England women edged Nigeria 4-2 on penalties after a gruelling 0-0 draw during an evenly contested 120 minutes. The Lionesses once again lacked bite and after Lauren James was sent off late on in regulation they needed luck to eventually progress. Nigeria would feel they should have won this one.
England started with confidence and they enjoyed 62% possession in the first half. Despite that, the Nigerians were protecting their flanks very well and only once their solid goalkeeper Nnandozie had to make a really challenging safe in the first half.
If anything Nigeria looked closer to taking the lead late in the opening period. First, Alozie saw her header cleared off the line by an England player. Soon after Plumptre was unfortunate to see her fierce rocket cannoning off the crossbar.
The Lionesses regained some composure late in the period but they kept struggling creating chances. James was nowhere near as impactful as in the last 2 games. She grew visibly frustrated as the game progressed too.
Nigeria’s bad luck continued after the interval with Kanu’s header also only finding the crossbar. Only past the hour mark England regains some composure. However, just as they were pushing for the later winner Lauren James made an ugly tackle and after a VAR check, she was sent off.
England had only a few minutes to hold on to the goalless draw and they did so. Then the Lionesses had to dig deep to prevent Nigeria from scoring during the 30 minutes of extra time. Alozie squandered a sitter for the Super Falcons.
This turned out to be very costly with England edging the penalty shootout 4-2 after Erps produced 2 heroics. It was scrappy and unconvincing once more from the Lionesses but with luck on their side, they prevailed.
The Lionesses Player Ratings: luck and determination aplenty
GK Mary Earps 7.0/10
DF Lucy Bronze 7.8/10
DF Alex Greenwood 8.5/10
DF Millie Bright 7.3/10
DF Jessica Carter 7.8/10
DF Rachel Daly 7.2/10
MF Georgia Stanway 6.9/10
MF Keira Walsh 6.8/10
FW Lauren Hemp 6.2/10
FW Alessia Russo 7.1/10
FW Lauren James 5.0/10
FW Chloe Kelly 6.5/10
The other 3 substitutes were made inside the final 20 minutes, so there was no time for those players to be ranked.
Nigeria women Player Ratings: the woodwork crushed the Super Falcons
GK Chiamaka Nnadozie 7.5/10
DF Ashleigh Plumptre 8.1/10
DF Blessing Demehin 6.9/10
DF Osinachi Ohale 6.1/10
DF Michelle Alozie 6.4/10
MF Toni Payne 7.0/10
MF Christy Ucheibe 6.5/10
MF Uchenna Kanu 7.0/10
MF Rasheedat Ajibade 6.6/10
MF Halimatu Ayinde 7.4/10
FW Ifeoma Onumonu 5.9/10
FW Asisat Oshoala 6.7/10
MF Francisca Ordega 6.1/10
The other 2 substitutions took place inside the final 20 minutes, so those players didn’t spend enough time on the pitch to get ratings.
Player of the Match: Alex Greenwood
England’s main centre-back Greenwood was rock solid all match. She had 17 interceptions, 6 successful tackles and won 77% of her aerial duels. Not only she helped England to their third clean sheet of the tournament but Greenwood was also the most accurate passer of the team. She distributed the ball very well.
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