World Cup 2023 - Matildas meltdown as Nigeria crash the party - Match Day 7
Australia let a golden chance slip as they were beaten by Nigeria in a Group B thriller on Match Day 7.
A win for the Matildas would have seen them progress to the Round of 16 but now face Olympic champions Canada in a must-win match next Monday. It was a bright start for Australia as they piled pressure on the Nigerian defence, however it all came to little until Emily Van Egmond scored in first half injury time. Thinking they would take the lead into the break, a loss in concentration helped Nigeria hit back just minutes later. Uchenna Kanu got a fortunate deflection before knocking the ball past Matilda's keeper Mackenzie Arnold to see the sides locked at 1-all heading into the break. Nigeria pressured Australia in the second half and the Super Falcons were rewarded on 65 minutes when Osinachi Ohale bundled the ball over the line to make it 2-1 after the Matildas' defence failed to clear their lines following a Nigerian corner. It would get more calamitous for Australia when a defensive mix-up between defender Alanna Kennedy and goal keeper Mackenzie Arnold allowed Asisat Oshoala to finish from a tight angle.
Australia chased the game in the later stages with Tony Gustavsson making some radical changes, moving Kennedy forward to provide some aerial presence as well as bringing on attacker Alex Chidiac and veteran Clare Polkinghorne. The move would pay dividends in injury time with Kennedy heading home from a corner but ultimately it would too little too late as Nigeria held on for a famous 3-2 victory. In the early matches, United States drew 1-1 with Netherlands and Portugal made light work of Vietnam to see them exit in the group stage.
Match Day 8 will see Argentina face South Africa in Dunedin with both teams needing a win for any chance to progress. In the afternoon fixture England will take on Denmark at the Sydney Football Stadium and China will clash with Caribbean minnows Haiti in Adelaide.