The Falconets overturned a goal deficit to thrash Canada 3-1 in their last Group C game at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup early Thursday.
A goalkeeping error had gifted the Canadians a second-minute lead via a Kaila Novak strike.
But it took Nigeria 22 minutes to go level. Esther Onyenezide finished from the spot, after a Canadian defender handled a goal-bound shot, to bring her team to par.
Coach Chris Danjuma’s side, who enjoyed much of the possession, continued pressing after the equaliser and were given another penalty with 32 minutes on the clock following a foul on Mercy Idoko. Again, Onyenezide rose up to the challenge and slotted in the Falconets’ second goal of the day and her third strike at the tournament.
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While the second half had a much more relaxed atmosphere, Nigeria could have sealed the game but failed to convert any of their chances. Coach Danjuma, who was barking orders from the technical area, then made three substitutions, including Chioma Olise, at a go with a few minutes left in normal time.
Her introduction paid off immediately. She connected neatly, inside the four minutes added minutes, to Rofiat Imuran’s low cross and beat the Canadian goalkeeper in her near post for the Falconets’ third goal.
The win means Nigeria finished top of the group having beaten France and South Korea by a lone goal each in their previous games. They also scored five goals and conceded one in the group stage. The team will play Group D runners-up The Netherlands in the quarter-finals Sunday.
France were the other team from the group that joined the West Africans in the last of the competition following a 1-0 win over South Korea who finished third with three points. Canada had no points and ended bottom of the group standings.