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FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup: Nigeria takes down European champions France in opener

It was mixed fortunes for African nations in their opening fixtures at the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup but Nigeria stole the show with a stunning 1-0 victory over France to open up their campaign in Group C on Thursday evening in Costa Rica. Flourish Sabastine’s late strike sealed what could be an important three points for the Falconets to join South Korea at the top of the group. Nigeria will face the Koreans next before taking on Canada in their final group fixture.

France looked more likely to take the lead in the first half on a rain-soaked pitch with the Nigerian side limited to hopeful efforts that failed to threaten French goalkeeper Marie Petiteau. On the other end Nigeria were fortunate to escape on a couple of occasions, particularly in the 28th minute when Manssita Traoré somehow failed to steer her header on target off a Jade Le Guilly. Towards the end of the half Le Bluettes came close again but after a corner kick created a decent look for Esther Mbakem-Niaro she fluffed her shot attempt.

The second half was a different story and Nigeria began to threaten the French goal more and more. Sabastine got free on the left side of the penalty area and her low cross was met by Mercy Idoko who was only denied by an excellent reaction save from Petiteau. France appeared to have made the breakthrough in the 80th minute but after Nigeria goalkeeper Monle Oyono’s spilling of a corner kick led to Jade Nassi firing in the Video Assistant Referee judged Oyono was fouled. Shortly after the decisive moment arrived in the 85th minute when Sabastine got behind the French defense and slotted in past Petiteau for the late winner.

Highlights are below.

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