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Women's Football News
Sweden 3 (Oparanozie og 21, Fischer 31, Sembrant 60) Nigeria 3 (Okobi 50, Oshoala 53, Ordega 87)
Sweden and Nigeria battled out a 3-3 draw in a pulsating match at Winnipeg as the World Cup's 'Group of Death' lived up to its billing in its first match.
After the Swedes had taken a flattering two-goal lead into the interval, Nigeria hit back with two goals in quick succession to level the scores. Sweden replied with a fine team goal which appeared to have given them victory but a late equaliser from Francisca Ordega gave the Super Falcons the very least their enterprising performance deserved.
Nigeria started the match in confident mood and did the vast majority of the attacking in the opening twenty minutes, without really creating a clear cut opportunity. However it was the Swedes who were to go in front just afterwards, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.
Therese Sjogran's corner was flicked on at the near post by Nilla Fischer and cannoned into the net off the unfortunate Desire Oparanozie for an own goal.
Sweden continued to look dangerous from set pieces and another corner led to them doubling their lead ten minutes later. Sjogran floated another dangerous ball into the centre, Ngozi Ebere headed off the line but the Nigerian defence failed to clear the ball properly, leading to a scuffed shot by Lisa Dahlkvist being turned into the net by an unmarked Fischer from point blank range.
Asisat Oshoala had fired just wide following a strong run into the area and the Liverpool attacking midfielder had been a constant threat in the first half. Nigeria had been very unlucky to go into half time with a two-goal deficit but a stunning fightback after the restart saw them get back on terms.
First, Oparanozie drilled a low ball to the edge of the area where a sublime first touch from Ngozi Okobi took her away from Fischer and the striker fired her shot past Hedvig Lindahl and into the far corner.
Before Sweden could recover, a defence splitting pass from Onome Ebi picked out Oshoala who shrugged off the attentions of Fischer and finished confidently past Lindahl to make it 2-2.
The momentum appeared to be with Nigeria now and it took a good diving save from Lindahl to keep out an effort from Halimatu Ayinde's 25-yard shot.
Once again the game was to swing though and Sweden were to go back in front by producing their best piece of play in the match. Good build up play on the left culminated with Lina Nilsson bursting into the area and exchanging passes with Lotta Schelin before her cross was bundled in by Linda Sembrant from six yards.
A superb piece of defending from Emma Berglund preserved Sweden's lead, the central defender somehow managing to slide in and deny Oparanozie. The loose ball ran straight to Oshoala who was unable to direct it home with the goal at her mercy.
Nevertheless, Nigeria were not to be denied and with three minutes remaining, Okobi slipped an inch perfect through ball to release Ordega on goal and she buried her shot through the legs of the diving Lindahl to secure a point for her team.
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl, Elin Rubensson, Lina Nilsson, Emma Berglund (sub Amanda Ilestedt 73mins), Nilla Fischer, Caroline Seger, Lisa Dahlkvist (sub Linda Sembrant 57mins), Lotta Schelin, Kosovare Asllani (sub Olivia Schough 45mins), Sofia Jakobsson, Therese Sjogran.
Nigeria: Precious Dede, Ngozi Ebere, Osinachi Ohale, Halimatu Ayinde, Onome Ebi, Josephine Chukwunonye, Evelyn Nwabuoku, Asisat Oshoala, Desire Oparanozie, Ngozi Okobi, Francisca Ordega.
Player of the match: Ngozi Okobi.
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