After a controversial, but ultimately proper, offsides call on a Julie Johnston goal for the USWNT in the 8th minute, a handball by Nigeria off a Rapinoe shot, and some mighty saves from Nigeria’s Dede against the coming USA tide, Megan Rapinoe connected with Abby Wambach for a first-half last moment goal! After repeated attempts at headers this tournament, Abby used her pure soccer grit, instinct and determination to leap upwards and kick it properly over the head of a stunned goalkeeper and line of defense. USA-NGA 1-0 HT.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 17, 2015
Although in the first half a dangerous Nigeria put on a fierce resistance and Liverpool’s Asisat Oshoala made convincing chances, they were less confident in the second half, with the US setting the pace of play. A dangerous free-kick at the 56th minute nearly meant a tie for Nigeria, but it went just over the bar. A series of reckless fouls made the second half less beautiful to watch and experience for all, but Nigeria somehow still held the US to a 1-0 scoreline.
Substitutions of Shannon Boxx, Sydney Leroux and Christie Rampone didn’t create any more notable chances for the US, even against the beleaguered Nigerian team of 9 after a second yellow for Nnodim. The Shannon Boxx for Megan Rapinoe substitution decision basically signaled an unspoken (yet still loud) shift to a more defensive lineup to nurse a 1-0 lead rather than pushing for a second goal.
As incredible as a US win feels, it was a safe and consistent game for the #USWNT lacking any real risks. Nigeria truly can get further in future tournaments given more funding and developmental focus towards the women’s game, and we’re looking forward to seeing the progress!