Super Falcons draw with Ireland to reach knockout stage

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Nigeria’s Super Falcons have booked their place in the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup on Monday after drawing 0-0 with Ireland to finish second behind co-hosts Australia in Group B.

They will now meet the winners of Group D — which is most likely to be European champions England.

The Nigerians, who upset Australia 3-2 on their last visit to Brisbane, recovered from a sloppy first half to get the draw they needed and reach the knockout stage for only the third time in nine attempts.

Australia beat Olympic champions Canada 4-0 in Melbourne to top the group.

The Nigerians showed little of the flair that helped them down Australia in the last match, particularly during a scrappy first half during which they were outfought by an Ireland side only playing for pride after two losses.

They found it hard to penetrate the Irish defensive line, with lone striker Asisat Oshoala a forlorn figure up front, Sky Sports reports.

Oshoala had only one chance in the first 45 minutes and should have put her side in front after latching onto a terrible backpass from Louise Quinn and finding herself one on one with keeper Courtney Brosnan.

But her shot just missed to the right hand post and Ireland were off the hook.

The Nigerians came out with far more purpose in the second half as the Irish seemed to begin to feel the pace of the first period.

Brosnan pulled off a miraculous save in the 51st minute to deny Uchenna Kanu, who hit a powerful header that bounced awkwardly in front of the keeper.

Brosnan then threw herself up to somehow tip the ball onto the underside of the bar and watch it bounce back into the field of play.

That signalled an all-out assault on the Irish goal, only for some desperate defending to deny the Nigerians.

However, in a match lacking quality, shots on goal were scarce, seven to Nigeria and four to Ireland, all of the Irish shots coming in the first half.