Canada and Nigeria Settle for a Chaotic Tie
After a game that could’ve gone either way, the two powerhouses of Canada and Nigeria settled for the first scoreless draw of the tournament. But, that doesn’t mean it was without big moments. There’s a good reason why group B has been labeled the group of death, and the Canada-Nigeria game was no exception.
The Canadians started off on the front foot, coming out of the gate with big energy and stepping to the ball. World Cup legend Christine Sinclair got off an early shot after a brilliant setup from Ashley Lawrence, but it sailed right over the goal. Jordyn Huitema had the next chance at goal with a header that went wide.
Although Canada was able to press they couldn’t get comfortable, and that provided Nigeria with time and space to get the ball forward. Ifeoma Onumonu rocketed a shot from outside the box, forcing a save from Kalien Sheridan to keep it scoreless.
The game continued to go box to box for the first half, but the last moment of true chaos was when Sheridan came way off her line as Asisat Oshoala tried to slip one in. Vanessa Gilles had to step in and make the clearance, with Lawrence blocking the second attempt while Sheridan scrambled to get back.
The second half saw even more action, with a penalty awarded to Canada in the 46th minute after a VAR review. Francisca Ordega caught the back of Sinclair in the box, downing the veteran and giving Canada a chance to pull ahead. But she didn’t need to worry, because Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie saved the penalty with a one-arm dive, denying Sinclair from becoming the first player to ever score in six World Cups.
The Canadians and Super Falcons continued to play a very chippy match, and although Canada had almost 70% of possession, you wouldn’t have known that while watching. The pacing was incomparable, with both sides having success in moments of transition to keep everyone on their toes. Nigeria picked up the pace to get a great shot at goal when Oshoala sent a ball up the wing for Toni Payne, who pushed it forward to Onumonu. She got in behind the Canadian backline to cross the ball to Kanu in the box, but her shot was saved in a huge moment from Sheridan who stopped the ball with her calf. Unfortunately, this one was called offside after all the action was over, but still an amazing breakaway from Nigeria to get behind the Canadian defense.
This game saw the tournament’s first red card after a studs up challenge from Deborah Abiodun on Lawrence. The card was initially shown as a yellow, but VAR review turned it red and sent Abiodun to the bench, leaving Nigeria with 10 players on the field in the final minutes of stoppage time. The final whistle blew, leaving both teams scoreless and Australia sitting top of group B.
Canada’s lack of patience was their game-killer, as they often went for the most direct course of action right up the middle, which Nigeria could easily shut down and then turn over to make their own chances. The Canadians were without young superstar Jessie Fleming due to injury, and it’ll be interesting to see if her return changes the pacing and improves the midfield-forward connection. Canada saw the most success on the wings, and of course having Sheridan in goal didn't hurt, as the keeper had plenty of impactful saves.
Nigeria put up an incredible fight with the possession they had. They were most successful in moments of transition, catching Canada off their line and playing solid through balls to their forward line. Nigeria had incredible breakaway runs, outpacing their opponents. But their star performer had to be Nnadozie, who came up big with incredible saves to keep them in the game. No one should underestimate the Super Falcons as they hold onto a point from this physical matchup.