The U.S. Under-17 Women’s Youth National Team’s run at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup came to a panful end on Friday night with a 4-3 penalty kick shootout loss to African powerhouse Nigeria after drawing 1-1 in regulation.
While the U.S. dominated for long stretches of the match, outshooting the Flamingoes 27-8 and piling up 15 corner kicks to four, the young Americans only put three shots on goal and in the end, the lack of efficiency in front of the net cost them.
Nigeria scored the opening goal on a penalty kick after a highly questionable VAR review, and U.S. forward Amalia Villarreal equalized just before halftime, but the USA could not turn its dominance into another goal despite numerous quality chances, and the match went straight to penalties.
In the tightly-contested shootout, Nigeria goalkeeper Chikasmo Jiwuaku made a key save on the USA’s fifth and final attempt to set her team up for victory. The match marked the USA’s first appearance in the U-17 WWC knockout stage since 2008 while Nigeria advances to its first-ever semifinal at the tournament, where it will face the winner of Colombia-Tanzania.
Due to a thunderstorm in Navi Mumbai, the match kicked off nearly two hours late, but the USA sprung into action quickly. U.S. head coach Natalia Astrain made five changes from the starting XI that faced Morocco to secure the USA’s first-place finish in Group A and the USA was on the front foot from the beginning. While Nigeria had a few flashes on the break, the young Americans had by far the better of possession and chances in the game’s early going.
Forward Onyeka Gamero was a spark plug for the American attack all night on the wing, helping create a number of dangerous attempts. The U.S. nearly netted the opening goal in the 20th minute when Gamero played a pass to midfielder Lauren Martinho, whose hard-hit shot was stopped by Nigeria goalkeeper Faith Omilana.
Instead, the Flamingoes got on the board first a few minutes later via a VAR review. In the 25th minute, defender Ella Emri dispossessed Nigeria forward Amina Bello on the very left edge of the penalty box. Referee Iuliana Demetrescu did not call a foul and let play go on, but then signaled for VAR. After a lengthy review, she pointed to the spot, deeming Emri’s play a foul inside the penalty area. Omamuzo Edafe converted to give Nigeria a 1-0 lead midway through the first half.
The USA responded to the deficit, its first of the 2021-22 cycle, with fervor, sending numbers forward on numerous threatening attacking runs. Gamero and Martinho continued to be a menacing duo, with the pair nearly finding an equalizer in the 28th as a ball in from the winger ping-ponged around the Nigeria defense and fell to Martinho for a shot.
The U.S. created a number of stellar chances off of set pieces. One of the best came in the 35th, when captain Riley Jackson swung a ball inside the box that Nigeria attempted to clear, but flew to Martinho, who headed it down and controlled it before firing a shot that hit off the right post.
Gamero, who was one of the best players in the tournament, teed up the equalizer in the 40th. Pouncing on a loose ball, she played up to Villarreal on the run towards goal in the right side of the penalty area and the Michigan native fired it inside the far post to bring the USA level going into the break.
The depth of the U.S. squad shone in the second half as Astrain made all five substitutions and the fresh legs made a significant impact in the push for a game-winning goal. In the first few minutes of halftime, the renewed USA attack seemed to be knocking on the door. A number of balls lingered dangerously inside the Nigerian six-yard box, including a shot from Villarreal off a pass from midfielder Charlotte Kohler that bounced around the Nigerian defense.
Gamero nearly found the winner in the 84th minute. Driving down the left wing, she ran past two defenders and beat the goalkeeper with her rolling shot, but Nigeria’s Miracle Usani was well-positioned on the line and got her foot on the ball to make a game-saving deflection.
Despite a flurry of corner kicks and chances down the stretch, the USA couldn’t score a winner in regulation. In the penalty kick shootout, Nigeria jumped out to an early lead after the U.S. missed its second attempt. Goalkeeper Valentina Amaral saved Nigeria’s third attempt to pull the USA back even, but another VAR review went against the U.S., deeming that Amaral had jumped off her goal line early. While Nigeria missed its fourth attempt, Jiwuaku’s save of the USA’s fifth shot from Riley Jackson meant that Edafe’s goal, the Flamingoes’ fourth, would be enough to seal advancement to the semis.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
NGA – Omamuzo Edafe (Penalty Kick), 26th minute: After a questionable VAR review on a foul by Ella Emri at the edge of the box, the referee pointed to the spot. Edafe stepped up for the kick, firing her shot to the right side of the net for the game’s opening goal. USA 0, NGA 1
USA – Amalia Villarreal (Onyeka Gamero), 40th minute: After the Nigerian defense dispossessed midfielder Lauren Martinho near midfield, Gamero latched onto the loose ball and drove forward up the right wing. She laid it off to Villarreal cutting into the penalty area and the forward took it in stride to fire a shot towards the left post before that deflected by a Nigeria defender and soared into the back of the net. USA 1, NGA 1
- The five changes that head coach Natalia Astrain made to the starting XI from its third group stage match vs. Morocco were defender Savannah King, midfielder Ella Sanchez and forwards Onyeka Gamero, Nicollette Kiorpes and Amalia Villarreal.
- Villarreal’s goal was her ninth international tally and first at the World Cup.
- Goalkeeper Valentina Amaral made her second-straight start at the World Cup, earning her fourth international cap.
- All 18 players logged minutes during the USA’s run in India as well as two goalkeepers- Amaral and Victoria Safradin.
- Today marked the USA and Nigeria’s first meeting at the U-17 WWC.
-U.S. UNDER-17 WOMEN’S YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Women’s Under-17 Women’s Youth National Team vs. Nigeria
Date: Oct. 21, 2022
Competition: 2022 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup — Quarterfinal
Venue: DY Patil Stadium; Navi Mumbai, India
Kickoff: 6:20 p.m. local (8:50 a.m. ET) – 110-minute weather delay
Weather: 85 degrees, rainy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F PK
USA 1 0 1 3
NGA 1 0 1 4
USA — Omamuzo Edafe (Penalty Kick) 27th minute
USA – Amalia Villarreal (Onyeka Gamero) 40
Penalty Kicks Summary:
USA: Emeri Adames (Goal), Ella Emri (Missed), Taylor Suarez (Goal), Mia Bhuta (Goal), Riley Jackson (Missed)
NGA: Edidiong Etim (Goal), Edet Offiong (Goal), Miracle Usani (Goal), Comfort Folorunsho (Missed), Omamuzo Edafe (Goal)
USA: 21-Valentina Amaral; 20-Gisele Thompson, 4-Cameron Roller, 5-Ella Emri, 3-Savannah King (13-Emeri Adames, 90+5); 7-Riley Jackson (Capt.), 15-Ella Sanchez (8-Charlotte Kohler, 46), 19-Lauren Martinho (10-Mia Bhuta, 72); 18-Onyeka Gamero, 16-Amalia Villarreal (14-Melina Rebimbas, 79), 11-Nicollette Kiorpes (9-Taylor Suarez, 46)
Substitutes not used: 1-Abigail Gundry, 2-Nicola Fraser, 6-Samantha Smith, 12-Victoria Safradin, 17-Jordyn Bugg
Head coach: Natalia Astrain
NGA: 1-Faith Omilana 16-Jiwuaku Chikasmo, 90+5); 2-Omamuzo Edafe, 6-Shakirat Oyinlola, 13-Comfort Folorunsho, 3-Miracle Usani; 18-Bisola Mosaku, 8-Blessing Emmanuel (Capt.), 10-Taiwo Afolabi, 5-Tumininu Adeshina (20-Edidiong Etim, 58); 17-Opeyemi Ajakaye, 7-Amina Bello (15-Edet Offiong, 90+6)
Substitutes not used: 4-Mary Aderemi, 9-Alvine Dah-Zossu, 11-Chidera Okenwa, 12-Alima Attervall Alase, 14-Yetunde Ayantosho, 19-Blessing Sunday, 21-Jessica Inyiama
Head coach: Bankole Olowookere
Stats Summary: USA / NGA
Shots: 27 / 8
Shots on Goal: 3 / 2
Saves: 2 / 1
Corner Kicks: 15 / 4
Fouls: 4 / 4
Offside: 0 / 0
NGA — Taiwo Afolabi (Caution) 86th minute
Referee: Iuliana Demetrescu (ROU)
Assistant Referee 1: Mihaela Tepusa (ROU)
Assistant Referee 2: Anita Vad (HUN)
Fourth Official: Edita Mirabidova (UZB)
FIFA Player of the Match: Onyeka Gamero