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England's FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup challenge began in Augsburg with a 1-1 draw against Nigeria on Wednesday afternoon.
After taking the lead just before half time through Kerys Harrop's close range header, Mo Marley's team had to make do with a point in the opening game as Nigeria levelled on the hour mark.
But it was a bright start to the competition for England, who qualified courtesy of their European Championship success at Under-19 level a year ago. They faced a tough test against a physical African side who they last faced in the previous World Cup in Chile two years earlier. That game also finished 1-1.
With the tournament in Germany this time, England are a lot nearer home and started confidently, cheered on by a few pockets of English fans in the crowd. However they were dealt a blow in just the third minute when Jess Holbrook was brought down by a strong challenge by Helen Ukaonu.
They carried on for a few minutes while the Everton midfielder received treatment but she was forced to go off - Lucy Staniforth coming in as her replacement.
This didn't stop England controlling the early possession as they sized up Nigeria looking for an opening. Jade Moore fashioned their first attempt on goal with nine minutes gone, but her effort from range was turned around the post by the outstretched Alaba Jonathan.
Midway through the first half, Nigeria began to find a little rhythm and enjoyed a good spell of possession, creating a series of decent opportunities. Esther Sunday wriggled free inside the area and fired in a fierce left foot drive towards Becky Spencer's goal, but the keeper was equal to it.
Desire Oparanozie then found herself one on one with Harrop, but the Birmingham City defender did enough to keep her away from goal and the stabbed shot was easy for Spencer. A minute later Glory Iroka struck wide from 20 yards.
Nigeria's best chance of the first half fell to Ebere Orji, though. She was played into space behind England's last defender Lucy Bronze, but once again Spencer made the save look easy.
England, meanwhile, continued to pass the ball around well, but were struggling to break down the strong Nigeria defence. However, when Moore split the defence with a superb through ball into the path of Jordan Nobbs, the midfielder looked odds on to score. Osinachi Ohale was not giving up though, and raced back to make a last ditch challenge to clear from the feet of Nobbs as she prepared to pull the trigger.
On the stroke of half time, the Three Lions did go in front through defender Harrop. Staniforth's inswinging corner was misjudged by keeper Jonathan and Harrop's header from two yards made them pay.
Nigeria were back on terms on the hour mark when Orji broke away on the left and carried the ball into the area. She squared for Oparanozie and, though her connection was far from great, it was enough to wrong-foot Spencer and trickle towards the goal line. The striker needed only to make sure as she smashed into the empty net.
England made two changes with Demi Stokes and Danielle Carter coming on for Issy Christiansen and captain Michelle Hinnigan as they looked to get back in front.
Both sides were able to fashion a couple more chances each, but it was the defences that came out on top as the game finished all square.
England now face Mexico in their second Group C match that kicks off in Augsburg at 5pm (BST) on Saturday afternoon. The match will once again be live on British Eurosport and also online via FIFA.com.
England Under-20: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston, Lyndsey Cunningham, Jess Holbrook (sub Lucy Staniforth 6mins), Kerys Harrop, Lucy Bronze, Isobel Christiansen (sub Demi Stokes 75mins), Jordan Nobbs, Toni Duggan, Michelle Hinnigan, Jade Moore (sub Danielle Carter 63mins). Subs not used: Gilly Flaherty, Ashley Baker, Lauren Davey, Gemma Bonner, Shelby Hills, Abbie Prosser, Rebecca Jane.
Nigeria Under-20: Alaba Jonathan, Martin Ohadugha, Esther Sunday, Ebere Orji, Desire Oparanozie, Rebecca Kalu, Glory Iroka (sub Amarachi Okoronkwo 51mins), Soo Adekwagh, Joy Jegede, Helen Ukaonu, Osinachi Ohale (sub Blessing Edoho 48mins). Subs not used: Gloria Ofoegbu, Cecilia Nku, Esther Michael, Rabi Ihiabe, Ngozi Ebere, Charity Adule, Uchechi Sunday, Marbel Egwuenu.
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