Soccer

Ireland earn first Women’s World Cup point by holding Nigeria to goalless draw

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan is congratulated by her team-mates (PA).
Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan is congratulated by her team-mates (PA). Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan is congratulated by her team-mates (PA).

The Republic of Ireland secured their first Women’s World Cup point as they concluded their debut major tournament campaign with a 0-0 draw against Nigeria, who advance to the last 16 as Group B runners-up.

Courtney Brosnan pulled off a fantastic save to divert Uchenna Kanu’s 52nd-minute header against the bar to ensure the already-eliminated Girls in Green clinched a historic result in Brisbane.

While Vera Pauw’s side bow out on that high, Randy Waldrum’s Nigeria progress to a last-16 showdown next Monday at the same stadium against the winner of Group D – currently led by England.

The African team, with five points from their three games, join Australia in the next round, the co-hosts having bounced back from their shock 3-2 defeat to the Nigerians by beating Canada 4-0 and topping the pool.

Ireland’s 2-1 loss to Canada last Wednesday had seen skipper Katie McCabe score the team’s first ever goal at this level with a fourth-minute effort direct from a corner, and she made an early attempt in this game, drilling wide from the edge of the box five minutes in.

Nine minutes later, Ireland defender Louise Quinn lost possession, the ball was fed to Asisat Oshoala – recalled to the Nigeria starting XI after netting as a substitute against Australia – and the Barcelona forward looked sure to score but could not get her shot on target.

Further Irish attempts in the first half included Sinead Farrelly sending the ball off-target as she met a Heather Payne cross at the back post and Kyra Carusa heading into Chiamaka Nnadozie’s arms, before Toni Payne burst forward for Nigeria, only to roll a tame effort wide.

Goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan in action against Nigeria
Goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan in action against Nigeria Goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan helped earn her side a point (Tertius Pickard/AP).

Brosnan then produced a moment of brilliance early in the second half as she dived to push Kanu’s bouncing header up against the bar.

Oshoala struck wide again soon after before Denise O’Sullivan saw an effort blocked by Ashleigh Plumptre at the other end.

Ireland subsequently defended well against any pressure Nigeria applied and McCabe almost repeated her trick from the Canada match as she curled a corner on to the roof of the net.

After seven minutes of stoppage time – during which Brosnan dealt with a Rasheedat Ajibade shot – they were able to celebrate a positive finale to their maiden World Cup adventure, despite finishing bottom of the group.