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Super Falcons top World Cup group after beating Australia

The Super Falcons were impressive at the World Cup

The Super Falcons have defeated the Matildas of Australia 3-2 in their second game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup (WWC).

The Nigerian team stunned the co-host at the Suncorp Stadium, Milton, Australia, on Thursday.

Goals from Uchenna Kanu, Osinachi Ohale and Asisat Oshoala cancelled out Emily van Egmond’s opener and Alanna Kennedy’s late strike in the entertaining encounter.

The Falcons drew their first game against Canada, and their victory over Australia sends the Nigerians to the top of group B — marginally on a superior number of goals scored by the team.

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Oshoala, who suffered a knock from the previous game, started the match on the bench, while Kanu replaced her upfront alongside Ifeoma Onumonu.

The duo of Halimotu Ayinde and Rasheedat Ajibade returned from their suspension and were named in the line-up.

The Australians were also without the mercurial Sam Kerr as well as Mary Fowler and Aivi Luik due to injuries.

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The casualties had a debilitating effect on the Matildas’ proficiency but they dominated the early stages of the match.

Chiamaka Nnadozie was called into action to palmed Stephanie Catley’s shot off-target.

Shortly after, Hayley Raso almost put the Australians ahead. She connected at the far post to a delivery off a corner kick, but her effort was not well-guided.

A brief period of improved intensity provided the Falcons with their first chance of the match. A Christy Ucheibe’s volley ricocheted off Ashleigh Plumptre inside the Australian box, but the ball trickled wide after wrong footing Mackenzie Arnold, the Matildas’ goalkeeper.

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The match took a blistering pace on the stroke of halftime, with both teams hitting the back of the net within six minutes.

Emily van Egmond put the Matildas ahead after a sleeky team play.

But the Falcons struck back almost immediately. An Ajibade’s shot ricocheted into the path of Kanu, who poked the ball home from the mouth of the goalpost.

Nigeria returned for the second half a much hungrier team, and their renewed vigour paid off.

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Osinachi Ohale completed the comeback for the Falcons in the 65th minute, putting her body on the line to pounce a stray ball into the net.

The goal stunned the bouncy stadium of an excited home crowd into silence.

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Randy Waldrum then sent on Oshoala soon after, and the Barcelona Femeni’s striker cushioned the lead for Nigeria.

The 28-year-old took advantage of a defensive slip-up by the Australians and powered the ball home.

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With the strike, Oshoala is now the first Nigerian to net goals in three Women’s World Cups. She scored in Canada (2015) and France (2019) editions of the competition.

Although Kennedy scored a late second goal for the Matildas, the Falcons held on for a vital victory.

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Nigeria will play the Republic of Ireland in the final group game on Monday.

Photo credit: Soar Super Eagles (SSE_NGA)

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