Nigeria took their chances against the run of play on Wednesday to beat South Korea 2-0 for rare success at the Women’s World Cup to set themselves up to advance to the next stage of the tournament in France.
A first half own goal at the Stade des Alps and a breakaway attack, brilliantly finished by Asisat Oshoala, ensured the Africa champions only their fourth win in eight World Cup finals appearances and a chance to go to the second round for just a second time.
The Koreans, beaten 4-0 by hosts France in the tournament opener last Friday, are all but out of contention after a surprise setback in their second Group A game.
After weathering Korea’s early attacks, Nigeria went ahead just before the half hour mark when defender Kim Do-yeon miscued an effort to try to clear a long ball through the middle and steered it past her goalkeeper Kim Min-jung, who had come rushing out of her goal and was stranded.
There was a lengthy Video Assistant Referee review to see whether Nigeria’s captain Desire Oparanozie might have brushed the ball with her hand as she headed to the goal but there was no conclusive evidence to rule out the goal.
Korea were pulled back for offside when they found the net in the 58th minute before a Nigeran counter attack saw Oshoala, a three-time African women’s Footballer of the Year, ran half the length of the field, brushed past a defender, rounded the goalkeeper and squeezed the ball home from an almost improbable angle.
She might have scored in similar fashion just two minutes after the 75th minute goal but a heavy first touch saw the opportunity slip away.
Nigeria lost their opening game 3-0 to Norway in Reims on Saturday.