By Izuchukwu Okosi
Nigeria’s Super Falconets on Thursday were eliminated from the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup at the Stade Guy Piriou in Corncaneau, France, following a 2-1 defeat to European U-19 champions Spain.
Aitana Bonmati and Patricia Guijarro scored Spain’s goals while Peace Efih scored what ultimately was only a consolation goal for the African girls.
Spain took the lead in the 13th minute as captain Aitana Bonmati who waltzed through the Nigerian defence unchallenged to slot past goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.
Nigeria’s Grace Igboamalu was presented with a chance to equalise six minutes after Spain’s goal when Carmen Menayo miskicked the ball but her goalkeeper Catalina Coll smothered.
Nnadozie was shown a yellow card in the 37th minute after handling the ball outside the box in a bid to clear it.
The Spaniards’ ensuing freekick seemed to have handed them a second goal but without the aid of the VAR it was difficult for the referee to decide if the ball crossed the line.
The impressive keeper saved brilliantly off the foot of Patricia Guijarro in the 40th minute as the Nigerian defenders for the umpteenth time left their keeper exposed to the attacking forays of the Europeans.
Guijjaro however scored her team’s second goal in the 45th minute pouncing on the ball from a freekick, Gift Monday keeping a quartet of Spaniards onside – and even touched the ball with a hand. It was the fifth goal of the tournament for the scorer.
Chidinma Okeke had Nigeria’s first scoring chance in the second half but her shot was weak and untroubled the Spanish keeper.
Anam Imoh and Aishat Bello replaced Gift Monday and Grace Igboamalu respectively three minutes into the second half with the intention of coach Christopher Danjuma clearly to add attacking impetus to his team’s play.
The Falconets got a morale boosting goal in the 57th minute by Peace Efih. The forward broke loose and as she was closely marked while bearing down at goal, she found Rashedat Ajibade whose shot was parried to the path of Efih who duly slotted home.
The Falconets were lucky not to have conceded a freekick around the box in the 76th minute as Mary Ologbosere’s foul on Claudia Pina was adjudged not to be a freekick.
Rasheedat Ajibade turned away from her marker and let fly a volley at the edge of the penalty box with six minutes to go but the duo of Bello and Efih were well positioned to cause a damage.
The Nigerian side mounted late pressure to force a draw and extra time but their opponents held on to see out the contest and reach their first semifinals of the tournament.