The Super Falcons of Nigeria were on the verge of slipping to their second consecutive defeat in the tournament when Rasheedat Ajibade rewrote the story; scoring a goal with the last-ditch effort of the game to secure a crucial draw for Nigeria in the US Summer Series tournament
With time ebbing away at BBVA stadium in Houston USA, Nigeria kept surging forward in search of an equaliser which came from the resultant effect of a corner as Rasheedat — whose powerful shot had earlier hit the woodwork that led to the corner kick — buried a delicious pass from Payne into the top corner to level the scoreline in the 95th minute.
In a slightly unconducive atmosphere owing to the heated temperature of around 90°C that led to the 18 minute delay in the kickoff, the Super Falcons approached the game in a direct, purpose-driven and ambitious manner. Taking the front foot right from the very first minute, aiming to pierce the defense of the unsettled Portuguese women early into the game. No surprise their first significant chance of the game came in the 3rd minute when Onumonu got into a shooting position only for her shot to lack enough power to beat Teixeirra Pierrera.
As the event unfolds, Portugal began to find their feet in the game, pressing high, thereby allowing the Nigerian defense to be susceptible to errors. Even though Oluehi Tochukwu stated in the previous game that the team will learn from their mistake and remedy the situation in subsequent encounters, it seems the Super Falcons turned a deaf ears to their goalkeeper’s assertion as the defensive department still maintained the miscommunication and poor defending that characterized the previous game. Thus, against the run of play, Catarina Amado employing her pace journeyed down the right flank to square the ball into the path of Encarnação Telmar only for a miscommunication between the goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi and Chidinma Okeke led the defender to inadvertently steer the ball into her own net in the 22nd minute.
Perhaps the goal advantage for Portugal served as the gravamen for the Super Falcons imbalance in the succeeding actions as they remained toothless in the final third with all Michelle Alozie’s effort down the touchline to square the ball into the path of Oshoala proved abortive. Portugal capitalising on the Super Falcons imbalance doubled the tally in the 34th minute. Jessica Silva with a nice piece of footwork got the better of Okeke who committed a foul on the winger. The freekick specialist Andreia Jacinto does what she knows best, laying the ball perfectly for Carole Costa to score on a half volley from a sharp-angle in the 6yards box.
The Nigerian women however halved the deficit at the stoppage time of the opening half when the recipient of a corner kick Chikwelu picked out Michelle Alozie at the far corner to slot the ball into an empty net.
Randy Waldrum’s team maybe endowed with outstanding individual quality, but the recurring defensive issues that hasn’t been put to bed still cost the Super Falcons gravely. A poor clearance from the substitute defender Salome Zogg fell to the hands of Jacinto who released Encarnação Telmar into a one-on-one situation with Oluehi Tochuckwu. Calm and composed, the striker neatly chipped the ball over the advancing goalkeeper to restore Portugal’s two goals lead 5 minutes into the second half.
An enthralling second half performance from the Super Falcons ignited their confidence to get something out of the game and as such the coveted response came two minutes later. Once again Alozie bursting into space at the right flank channeled her run to the edge of the penalty area before squaring the ball into the path of Asisat Oshoala, but the Barcelona striker needed not to do more than pressurizing Diana Gomes who guided the ball into her own net.
That second goal sufficed to fuel the Falcons energy to restore parity in the game and deep into stoppage time, Rasheedat Ajibade reiterated why she remain integral to the team. Her individual brilliance came to manifest as she carved out a curling ball from a tight angle only for Teixeira Pereira’s vital touch to put the ball inches above the net. But she won’t be denied on a second trial, and the Athletico Madrid star notched the equalising goal in injury time, sparkling wide celebration from Nigerians.