Alexandra Popp was at her sizzling best, as Germany turn on the flavour leaving Nigeria with a sour taste.
Inside 20 minutes, Popp, on her 100th appearance for the national side, somehow managed to find room in a crowded and well-marked penalty area, to adjust her frame and nod home her sides’ crucial opener. It was this set-piece which gave the Germans the full control, not too long after a clever routine failed to work as planned, but by its surprise, almost paid off.
Die Nationalelf made it 2-0 via Sara Dabritz, after VAR intervened, spotting a lash out by Super Eagles defender Ebi Nwabuoku. Unintentional, yet similarities between her challenge and Ingrid Engen’s collision with Frances’ Marion Torrent will add to the never-ending discussion over VAR’s consistency. Two goals to the good and the Germans looked destined for the last eight, yet Nigeria’s teenage winger Rasheedat Ajibade caused a problem with a pacey run down the left, and with a beautiful ball in across the six-yard box, Desire Oparanozie was just out of reach as their biggest chances went begging.
Nigeria has brought passion and colour to this years’ World Cup, but how they conceded the third goal will leave a slightly sour note on their tournament debut. A mix up in defence and confusion all around as to who was going to the ball, which in turn allowed SGS Essen forward Schuller to kill the tie, and kill of Africa’s dream of having a Quarter-finalist.
Germany look strong, and although the USA and hosts France are the heavy favourites with the bookies, you can’t afford to rule out these dark horses just yet. With pragmatism in their nature, this squad is a team filled with togetherness and grit, which historically is enough to win tournaments, never mind fancy football. There’s a long way to go however until the July 7 final in Lyon.
Standing in their way of at least a semi-finals appearance will be the winners of Sweden vs Canada. Two stern sides and though the Swedes finished second in their group, it would be foolish to undermine them.
Germany: Schult; Gwinn, Doorsoun. Hegering. Schweers; Huth, Leupolz, Magull; Däbritz, Popp, Schüller
Nigeria: Nnadozie, Okeke, Ebi, Ohale; Nwabuokuf (Ajibade 45′), Ordega, Ayinde, Okobi; Ihezuo, Oparanozie, Kanu