Nigeria 0-0 Canada: Christine Sinclair has a penalty saved as gold medalists hold scoreless in World Cup opening match
- Chiamaka Nnadozie denied Sinclair from the spot early in the second half
- Kailen Sheridan, Nnadozie’s Canadian counterpart, also had a key save late
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Phenomenal performances from the goalkeepers of Kailen Sheridan and Chiamaka Nnadozie defined a physical match between Canada and Nigeria in Melbourne, which ended in a 0-0 draw.
Christine Sinclair fell in the area after being stepped on by Francisca Ordega and the VAR review resulted in a penalty.
However, the 40-year-old British Columbia native’s attempt was stopped by young Nigerian phenom Nnadozie.
Sinclair, the highest international goalscorer in soccer history, ended up being substituted in the 71st minute, only the second time in her long and illustrious World Cup career that she was eliminated in a game she started.
The game was high-paced and physically intense seemingly from the moment the whistle blew.
Chiamaka Nnadozie (16) saved a penalty early in the second half to earn a point for Canada
Sinclair went down in the box, but the 40-year-old forward couldn’t convert her penalty
Kailen Sheridan (1) also put in a phenomenal performance between the sticks for Canada
Both teams achieved double figures in shots, with 11 for Nigeria and 16 for Canada. But the Canadians had a huge possession advantage at 68 percent.
Canada had half of their shots blocked by a stalwart Nigerian defense that outscored the Canadians in every important defensive stat.
By the time the final whistle was blown, Nigeria had posted their first scoreless draw in the WWC in 26 matches.
Sinclair’s attempt to become the oldest scorer in WWC history in her sixth tournament appearance will have to wait for the next match against Ireland in five days.
In addition to her saved penalty, the 40-year-old also squandered the best chance of the first half when she found herself unmarked on the edge of the box but sent a shot high and wide in the ninth minute.
Nigeria eventually fought their way into the contest and Ifeoma Onumonu forced a low save from Kailen Sheridan with a long-range shot heading for the bottom corner in the 23rd minute.
It was the only shot on goal in the first half, although not due to a lack of willingness on the part of either team to take the lead.
Sheridan had a nervous moment in the 35th minute when he ran off his line and was unable to deal with a pass that had gone over the Canadian defence.
Sinclair’s bid to become the oldest goalscorer in a women’s World Cup will have to wait
Late in the match, Deborah Abiodun received her marching orders after a reckless challenge.
Asisat Oshoala was unable to capitalize on the mistake and returned the ball through the 6-yard box, and the lucky keeper was rescued when Vanessa Giles and Ashley Lawrence combined to clear the danger.
The second half started very strongly when Sinclair won the penalty, cut by Francisca Ordega as she was walking away from the goal in the area.
The spot shot was awarded on review and Sinclair stepped up, only to send a tame shot into the bottom corner.
Nnadozie stopped the veteran with a hard left-footed save and deflected the rebound, much to the delight of the rowdy Nigerian fans in the stands.
Canadian substitute Evelyne Viens got into a brilliant scoring position from close range, but fired a shot in the 65th minute straight at Nnadozie.
Abiodun was sent off in stoppage time and Canada were unable to capitalize on the numbers advantage.