Bad start for Super Falcons as Ohale own goal seal Norway’s 3-0 win in Nigeria’s World Cup opener

It was a poor start to the 2019 FIFA Women World Cup for Nigeria’s Super Falcons as former champions Norway, brushed past the African champions after three first half goals in just the fourth game of the competition. Guro Reiten, Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland and an own goal from Osinachi Ohale ensured Thomas Dennerby’s side lost the first available 3 points in the first round of group A games.

It was the second FIFA Women World Cup meeting between the Super Falcons and Norway. The first, an 8-0 defeat against Norway. It also was the fourth overall meeting between both sides. Norway having won all three previous meetings.

Dennerby made two changes after their 2-1 loss to Canada in their most recent friendly. Imo and Kanu both falling to the bench with Ordega and Oshoala coming into the starting XI. The latter, pretty inarguably Nigeria’s best player, plying her club trade at Barcelona, with whom she appeared, and scored in, the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final. Also of note was striker Oparanozie who scored an impressive six goals in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
Nigeria looked to be very threatening on the counter-attack in the early stages as Ayinde was found with an excellent cross-field ball, she dribbled her way forward and tried to cut the ball back towards Oparanozie, it however got blocked and deflected off of herself and went behind for a goal-kick.
Few minutes later, Desire Oparanozie picked up an early yellow card for flinging an arm into Wold while chasing the ball. And then, it became a nightmare for the Super Falcons.

Norway opened the scoring as Graham Hansen and Reiten played a one-two from a short corner as the latter found space inside the box and unleashed a left-footed shot, it hit Ebi en route and got deflected past Oluehi in-goal and into the back of the net.
The trio of Oshoala, Ordega and Oparanozie tried to claw Nigeria back into the game with various dangerous counter attacks but it would not be the Falcons’ night as Norway doubled their lead just few minutes after the half hour.
Lisa-Marie Utland made sure not to make her run too early as she waited for the pass in from Reiten and upon receiving it, hammered her shot well above Oluehi and into the back of the net leaving the Nigerian keeper helpless.

Three minutes later, it was 3-0. Graham Hansen headed the ball forward to Herlovsen on the run who whipped a cross towards Utland. Osinachi Ohale redirected it, but into the back of Nigeria’s net.
Nigeria had consecutive chances just few minutes before halftime after series of long-balls down the wing, a cross the ball into the box but they were all blocked before any truly trouble Ingrid Hjelmseth in the Norwegian goal.

The Super Falcons started the second half making substitutions. Halimatu Ayinde got pulled off early as Dennerby sent Chinaza Uchendu to replace her. Few minutes, it was Chidinma Okeke who made her own appearance after substituting Faith Michael who got injured and had to be put onto a stretcher as after it was obvious she couldn’t continue.
The substitute, Uchendu made a quick impact as while outside the box, lined up and fired a shot well right of goal. The finish however, was poor.
While Norway dominated, Asisat Oshoala pressured them. She got a chance close to goal but hit her shot into the side netting after rounding the goalkeeper as the angle didn’t favour her. Oshoala a minute later, got a shot off from inside the box after a pass in from Okob. but he chance lacked the power to trouble Hjelmseth.
A final throw of the die for Dennerby as he substituted captain of the side Desire Oparanozie to bring on 22-year old Uchenna Kanu was not enough as the Scandinavian giants would run away with all three points after the emphatic 3-0 win.

The Super Falcons now look forward to their second group against fourth-placed Korea Republic who lost 4-0 in their first group game against France on the opening day of the World Cup.

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