Nigeria holds Olympic champions Canada with penalty save in Women’s World Cup
Christine Sinclair had a penalty saved as Olympic champions Canada were held 0-0 in their opener by Nigeria, who saw Deborah Abiodun pick up the first red card of this Women's World Cup.
But she missed the chance to reach that milestone in Melbourne as her penalty early in the second half was saved by goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.
With few clear chances otherwise, that allowed the Super Falcons to come away with a morale-boosting draw in Group B, in which co-hosts Australia beat Ireland 1-0 on Thursday.
However, they had a disrupted build-up as the team threatened to strike over pay, funding and contractual issues.
They are also missing key players due to injury and perhaps continue to rely too heavily on Sinclair, the all-time top scorer in international football.
Nigeria are appearing at their ninth World Cup but were themselves embroiled in controversy in the build-up as the team clashed with their national federation over bonuses.
They had even threatened to boycott their opening game, but Randy Waldrum’s team produced a spirited performance that gives them hope of matching their run to the last 16 four years ago in France.
Star striker Asisat Oshoala was unable to shine but the Nigerian defence gave away little against the attack of the team ranked seventh in the world.
The key moment came shortly after half-time, when a spot-kick was awarded following a VAR check for a foul by Francisca Ordega on Sinclair.
Sinclair dusted herself down to take the penalty but her kick was poor and Nnadozie was able to make the save.
Abiodun was dismissed deep in stoppage time at the end of the game after another VAR review, a yellow card being upgraded to red.
Replays showed her catching Ashley Lawrence with her studs above the ankle in a nasty challenge.
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