Fan Yuqiu scored midway through the second half to cut Nigeria’s lead in half as China PR began to mount a comeback, but Onyinyechukwu Okeke performed admirably in goal for Nigeria as the African’s back line held on to a 2-1 win in their first Group D encounter at the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica.
Nigeria took the lead in the 21st-minute when Uchenna Kanu was the first to get an in-swinging corner kick but Peng Shimeng made a good initial save only to give up a rebound that fell to Rasheedat Ajibade, who made no mistake and broke the deadlock with an emphatic strike.
China were able to break into Nigeria’s final third but Okeke was rarely tested. At the beginning of the second half the Africans looked to be the stronger side yet again, and in the 63rd minute their lead was doubled courtesy of a powerful header from Kanu.
Only a minute later, however, China found their way back into the game when captain Fan Yugiu calmly finished Yan Liu’s cross. The Chinese continued to press for an equaliser during the final 25 minutes but the Nigerian backline held firm. In a delightful display of respect and sportsmanship, the Chinese team bowed to the Nigerian bench after the final whistle blew.
China will look to earn their first points in Group D when they face Mexico on Wednesday, while Nigeria will look to secure a firm grasp atop the group when they take on Colombia.
Player of the match: Rasheedat Ajibade (Nigeria)